“There’s been an explosion at the marathon.” The words didn’t seem real when I first heard them. I was thousands of miles and an entire ocean away on a school trip in England when my classmates and I received the news. At first we didn’t understand what was happening; they couldn’t have meant an explosion like a bomb, it had to be a technical malfunction or something like that. Then, as we headed back to the hotel and started to pick up WIFI, we were able to see the pictures and all the chaos that was unfolding. The phone calls back home started, and what had been a fun outing to the supermarket turned into a moment of complete distress and terror for all of us. Almost everyone, including myself, broke down in tears, as many of my friends were still frantically calling their families to make sure everyone was all right. We didn’t know who was hurt or how this happened or who was behind it; all we knew was that a terrorist attack had struck our beloved city.
The next few hours and days felt like everyone was holding their breath, waiting to see what would happen next. Later that night, everyone sat in silence watching the same awful clip of the bomb going off over and over again. Our flight home coincided almost exactly with the chase of the bomber through Watertown, and rumors were swirling around that we would have to wait a few days to get home or take a flight to Maine or Connecticut or something like that. At that point I just wanted to see my family and friends and make sure everyone was okay. When we finally landed at Logan Airport, the city was a ghost town; we got out right before the climax of the chase took place. Right when I walked through my front door, it was announced that the chase had stopped in Watertown and the assailant was in custody. The whole city was finally able to breathe again.
No one could have predicted such a catastrophe would ever hit this city, especially on such a big day in Boston’s history. No one expected to lose their loved ones and wonderful people like Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, Sean Collier, and Martin Richard, or see their friends and family members suddenly lose the use of their arms and legs. These tragedies always seem so far away from us, in different cities or states or countries, that we never think it will happen to us. I was scared to come home, scared to go to school in Boston so close to where the bomb went off, scared that my best friend went to the same school as the bomber. Boston was shaken, and after that day it would never be the same. And it still isn’t; in fact, it’s stronger than ever before.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Boston underwent an event that threatened to destroy the city and its inhabitants and emerged stronger and braver than ever before. We came together as a city and showed the world what happens when you poke the bear. That day in England, one of the saddest and most terrifying days of my life, I was comforted by the teachers that kept us going and the bond that formed between all of us. I might not have been able to cope with the news if it hadn’t been for that camaraderie that formed between us high school students that day, and the support and comfort we gave each other. Boston is made up of the strongest people I’ve ever known and I have so many reasons to be proud of living here. Who else has a baseball team that went from last place to winning the World Series and dedicated it all to its fans? Like the Red Sox, we grew from our darkest hour and became champions. We truly are Boston Strong, and in case anyone ever forgets, this is our f*&%ing city.