Stay Boston Strong: Remembering Mid-April Tragedies

Boston Strong - Boston Marathon BombingBoston Strong. Run on.

Growing up, the middle of April was my favorite time, because it meant that the month was dragging itself closer to my birthday, inch by inch across the calendar. As I got older, I became more aware of the events of the world, and two dates in mid-April ceased to be merely space that made my birthday farther away. Instead, they became spaces filled with remembrances of loss.

The first date that changed for me was April 19th, when in 1995 the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed. A few days later, after just turning 10 years old, I spoke at a tree-planting ceremony held at my school in honor of the victims. The following year, my family happened to be in OKC on April 19th. I knew immediately why the flags were flying at half-mast.

Then, on April 20th, 1999, two heavily-armed teenage students entered classrooms, the cafeteria, and the library at their high school to take the lives of their fellow students and members of the school staff. I quietly celebrated the close of my freshman year, as the country watched the events at Columbine High School and discussed the safety of high schools like mine.

But, things come in threes, so they say.

For years, it seemed as if the middle of April wouldn’t again be rocked by tragedy. It seemed the increased safety of our federal buildings and our schools meant that we were better protecting people in public.

On April 15, 2013, Boston’s celebrated annual marathon was drawing to its conclusion when two pipe bombs exploded near the finish line, killing three and wounding over 200 more. On April 18th, police released sketches of the suspects, brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. After a dramatic car chase and shoot out with police that left two officers and Tamerlan Tsarnaev dead, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested.

Intertwined with the cries of “Boston Strong” echo the cries of other tragic events in April. With the recent conviction of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on 30 charges, and with his sentencing currently pending, the world seems conflicted about this year’s marathon. While some continue to run on, no one can race at the pace of history.

For me now, in the week leading up to this, my 30th birthday, the triad seems complete. Three public tragedies separated by years on the timeline but only a few inches on the calendar.

Every year, these events will continue to remind me to be grateful and to celebrate another day of embracing my loved ones at every chance.

Because any space on the calendar can be filled with a change that affects you forever.

This April 15th, our Boston Marathon Footprint continues to grow. We have shared a few things about the events that day, but we need your help. Follow the Footprint and join the conversation. Share your stories, photos, and memories. Stay Boston Strong.


About Cortni Merritt

Managing Editor, Cortni Merritt, MA, reads everything she comes across. She has degrees in both psychology and English, and has been a composition instructor, and a copywriter for lawyers, a coordinator at a dating service, and a property manager of apartments. Cortni makes it her mission to read people's stories.

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