This is our fucking city.  And nobody is going to dictate our freedom.  Stay strong.
– David “Big Papi” Ortiz, Boston Red Sox designated hitter

And with that, standing 15 miles and 238 years removed from the original, David Ortiz fired his own shot heard ’round the world.

Ortiz and his Red Sox teammates are icons of Boston sports culture.  But in his pregame address before the team took the field against Kansas City on Saturday, Ortiz was talking to a far wider audience than the 35,152 battle-tested fans in attendance at Fenway Park.

Because this past week, Boston truly was our city.  Boston was San Francisco’s city.  Boston was Chicago’s city.  Boston was Denver’s city, Miami’s city and New Orleans’ city.  Boston was even New York City’s city, as proclaimed by the “United We Stand” banner sporting dual Yankees and Red Sox logos that hung outside Yankee Stadium on Tuesday.

Over the course of a 102-hour period from Monday afternoon to Friday evening, we were barraged by thousands of graphic images of real-time chaos, tragedy and implausible strength.  We were warned to avert our eyes from some images, while being asked to look very carefully at others.  Thousands of pictures worth millions of words, as news agencies – including CNN with its bumbling, stumbling impression of a rabid dog chasing its tail – hustled to force-feed us those words and many more.  Meanwhile, those of us in the running community struggled to make sense of and assign words to our own swirling emotions.

Yet two words quickly rose above the turmoil: Boston Strong.  Two words worth a thousand pictures.  Two words to drive home the point that, as we approach our 237th birthday, each new terrorist threat to these States of America only serves to reaffirm and reinforce the fact that the U. remains an inextricable partner of the S.A.

With that in mind, and before this blog moves in a different direction, I wanted to share 10 unforgettable images and stories from a week that, to me, showcased and immortalized what it means to be Boston Strong:

Four we won’t forget
Krystle Campbell (29), Martin Richard (8) and Lu Lingzi (23) were killed in Monday’s bombings.  MIT campus patrol officer Sean Collier (26) was shot and killed in the line of duty by the Tsarnaev brothers on Thursday.  Donations can be made to the Krystle M. Campbell Memorial Fund, the Richard Family Fund, the Lu Lingzi Scholarship Fund at Boston University, and under Officer Collier’s name to The Jimmy Fund:


In addition, The One Fund Boston, Inc. has been established by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino to provide financial support for all those directly affected by the week’s tragic events.

Bill Iffrig and the bombing of Boylston Street (Monday)
Bill Iffrig (circled at top, and in orange tanktop at bottom) was seconds from finishing his third Boston Marathon when shock waves from the first explosion knocked him to the ground.  After being helped to his feet by a race official, the 78-year-old Washington resident finished the marathon under his own power.  Iffrig’s story has come to symbolize the city of Boston’s endurance and resolve in the aftermath of Monday’s madness:

Finish line_MS

© 2013 The New York Times Company

Bill Iffrig-Boston Globe

(AP Photo/The Boston Globe, John Tlumacki)

Jeff Bauman, hero (Monday)
Jeff Bauman was standing at the marathon finish line to cheer on his girlfriend when Tamerlan Tsarnaev dropped a backpack containing a bomb at his feet.  Despite losing both legs in the explosion and waking up in the hospital heavily drugged, Bauman (shown here being rushed from the scene by a paramedic and two volunteers, including Carlos Arredondo in the cowboy hat) immediately asked for a pen and paper on which he wrote, “bag, saw the guy, looked right at me.”  His subsequent identification of Tsarnaev was the breakthrough FBI investigators needed to finger Tsarnaev and his brother Dzhokhar as prime suspects:

Jeff Bauman

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Man comforts bombing victim (Monday)
I don’t know whether they knew each other before Monday or whether this is their first meeting, but without question this is one of the most poignant images to emerge from the day’s harsh surreality:


Détente in the Bronx (Tuesday)
As much as I hate to admit it, the New York Yankees are a classy organization.  New York’s show of solidarity with its normally bitter rival was on full display on the outer facade of Yankee Stadium before Tuesday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The team recognized a moment of silence for the bombing victims, and the stadium’s PA system played Fenway favorite “Sweet Caroline” as fans sang along at the end of the third inning:


Four days later, the two cities set aside their similarities for 48 minutes as the Knicks defeated the Celtics in game one of their NBA playoffs series.  Don’t get cocky New York, it’s only one game.

Manhunt in the streets of Boston (Friday)
Boston residents were ordered to “shelter-in-place” as authorities pursued bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  The lockdown left the streets of Boston and its surrounding suburbs eerily empty and quiet, as exemplified by this photo of Kenmore Square tweeted by Andrew Golden:


The Boston Police Department: “CAPTURED!!!” (Friday)
This tweet, time-stamped 8:58pm EDT on Friday April 19, says it all:


It’s his f@&#ing city, too
He’s David Ortiz’s kind of kid: I’ve had this picture on my hard drive for several years now, and usually call on it to harass my friends once the baseball playoffs begin.  Before I get called out for my naïvete, yes I realize he’s a promiscuous kid and can be found online wearing pretty much any team’s jersey.  But to me the sentiment is so perfect and so… Boston, particular now, that this list wouldn’t feel right without him:

Red Sox fan

Boston Bruins fans sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” (Wednesday)
In the first professional sporting event in Boston since the bombings, Boston Bruins’ fans joined in and then overwhelmed Rene Rancourt as he sang the national anthem.  If this doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, or at least a gaggle of goosebumps to your skin, I can only assume you just awoke from a 102-hour slumber:

And I leave you with one final image, a collective sentiment that will continue to resonate with runners everywhere long after the debris on Boylston has been cleared away… after all, Boston is our fucking city:


The One Fund Boston, Inc. was established “to help the people most affected by the tragic events that occurred in Boston on April 15, 2013.”  Please give generously.

  1. Kristina says:

    Both of your posts on Boston have captured the range of emotions I’ve felt this past week so eloquently. While my ties to the city used to be based on a Celtics rivalry and my love of Spenser novels, I now feel a connection to the city and the people at the marathon that will last forever. Thank you for sharing your writing.

    • Mike says:

      Thanks for reading Kristina, awfully nice of you to say. Never forget I once let you cut up my Celtics credit card (though not before receiving my new one, of course). If I was able to create an emotional bond between you and the city that Lakers fans love to hate, well that’s the highest compliment you could pay me.

  2. Dan says:

    I’ll be honest, I saw that YouTube link and thought “I’m sure this’ll be nice, but tears, doubtful.” And then I watched it and yeah, goose flesh was inevitable. You rarely hear so many people belting that song at the top of their lungs. Most of them are hoping it’ll be a quick rendition so we can get this show on the road. But you can hear the passion in their voices — truly united, as you mentioned earlier.

    Great reflection again, boss. Definitely a week that won’t be soon forgotten. But now it’s time to read about that crazy race you did. When’s that coming?

    • Mike says:

      Yeah, turns out my brain wouldn’t let me escape such a disturbing week without a few final thoughts. But Monday was my designated turn-the-page day, and the neglected race report is on its way. It’s more of a project than my usual post, but hopefully I’ll have something up by end of week, before our impending move this weekend. Then hopefully I can get back to actually running races…

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