The meaning of fight

Boston StrongThe Boston Marathon, aside from being the oldest marathon in the world, is also one of the most celebrated. It begins on Grove Street in Hopkinton and slinks across Ashley, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton and finally Brookline, before finishing up on Boylston Street. The twenty six miles and three hundred and eighty five yards is a living testimony to the spirit of a town whose muscular resume was indisputable long before a slogan rallied an entire nation.

The finish line is a ten minute cab ride from Logan; the airport out of which American Airlines flight 11 departed with Mohamed Atta and eighty seven innocent souls aboard on September 11th.

A couple hard scrabble towns separated by 218 miles and whose rivalries run the gamut- from political families to baseball allegiances- became united under the banner of a flag that will always matter more than the differences. Two proud cities, two hateful wicked punches, same resolute response. Hey, we’re still here.

On April 15th of 2013, Boylston Street became something other than a finish line. It became the North Tower, and the South. It became the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. It became the latest example that when Americans are pushed, we tend to push back. Hard and mightily and for as long as it takes.

Martin RichardWe have experienced our fair share of savage consequences since 2001. All the way from 8:46 am on September 11th to 2:49 pm last April 15th. Our most impossible losses have necessarily become our most important inspirations. Namely, Christine Lee Hanson and Martin Richard.

Christine Lee Hanson was two years old when she was stolen from the world back in 2001. She was a passenger on Flight 175. Eight year old Martin Richard of Dorchester succumbed to injuries sustained during one of the twin explosions near the finish line in Boston. The fight matters because the loss of innocents will never be an acceptable conclusion. It’s not about winning or losing since you can’t win a September 11th or an April 15th. The fight is about staying the course in the face of unimaginable loss. The fight we show is in living a day that Christine Lee Hanson and Martin Richard never get to wake up to. When you can’t settle a score, the only thing left to prove is everything else.

Monday morning will mark the 118th running of the Boston marathon. It will bring together mothers and fathers, firefighters and athletes, young and old, gay and straight, conservatives and liberals, Yankees and Red Sox. And for twenty six miles and three hundred and eighty five yards, the differences will unite in a common cause. For a few hours time, Americans will respond to the worst humanity has to offer the same way they always have; by getting to work on doing some good. They will move with purpose and grace and dignity and faith because they understand the fight isn’t about showing the bad guys what we have. It’s about showing ourselves.

They will run to Boylston Street.



29 thoughts on “The meaning of fight

    • Wow! The thing I love about blogging is the immediacy, the accessibility to others for their thoughts and comments on a piece. Sure it’s possible in other venues, but it just does not carry the same personal touch as it does when I’m blogging. I think it’s really cool that this post struck a chord with you to such a degree that you would re-blog it. Thank you for your input, it means a great deal to me.
      Honored and grateful to you, John.

  1. Blackjack- I am pretty sure I know who you are from the email attached to this, but my memory is fuzzy. A ‘cut and save’ huh? Do me a favor and do not stick it on the fridge, cause the shelf life there is a couple weeks tops. Seriously, thank you.

  2. SOOO wonderful, Cayman. I still experience a lot of emotion when I think about 9/11 and last year’s Boston Marathon. What a wonderful tribute to both.
    I’ve been to Ground Zero…Boylston is next on my bucket list (if ONLY I was fast enough to qualify!)

    • Mama- Ground zero was really hard for me to visit since I used to hang out in the city as a teenager. The towers were something I always took for granted until they were no longer there, and that first time up after the attacks, I was numb.
      I was on Boylston St quite a while ago. Me and the ex and the kids took a day trip into town and walked all over the place.
      Two American cities became intertwined and it was their response that inspired this post. Thank you for reading, and for your solid and thoughtful comments. And getting to Boylston Street as a spectator is no small deal, not any longer. They’re expecting a ton of spectators this year, and that’s a resounding message that the bad guys cannot take away our spirit. I hope you do it some day.

  3. Hi Cayman,
    I was a complete mess at Ground Zero (and for days after)…I can’t even imagine what it must have been like knowing the streets and city like you do. Isn’t it also strange to catch an old movie (or even sitcom) that showed the Towers so prominently in the background? It chills me every time.
    I love how you melded the two strong cities together–I have wonderful, resilient friends from Boston and am eager to get the live stream going on the race today. Just like Easter’s message…the bad guys fall in the end 🙂

    • Mama- It seems like I see the towers in every movie these days. Just a glimpse and yeah, like you, I’m taken aback. It always stirs something and it always will. It will never just be a scene in a movie, it will be a host of memories. Ah yes, it will be interesting to catch some of this race. Race day, Patriots Day . . . there’s something to all that, yanno?

  4. Beautifully said, Cayman. This was a big event, not just for Boston, but for America. I’m eternally grateful it went well, and that everyone was safe for the day. I was also happy to hear that an invitation was sent to the 5,600 runners who didn’t get to finish last year to race the marathon this year — and 5,000 of them accepted the invitation. Says a lot about the spirit of this marathon, and ultimately, this country.

    • 4am- I watched streaming vid of the last fifteen minutes or so of the race. When Meb turned onto Boylston, I got chills. And then he started shaking his fist- first his left and then his right- to the spectators rooting him on when he knew he was going to win. And it was one of those moments you will never forget having watched. Special beyond words. Boston really did a hell of a job. What a race, what a day.

    • Guapo- New York is where I was born. It’s one of those connections you always keep, no matter where in the world you end up. I grew up learning how very important heart and soul was, and gravitating to the people who possessed it.

  5. Oh, Cayman . . . I read this through quickly the day you posted it. I rushed through, not wanting to dawdle too long, because my head and my heart couldn’t handle the feelings that would come. Feeling stronger today, and had to come back to re-read, and re-re-read.

    It took me 11 years before I could handle going to Ground Zero. It was cold and blustery and I was glad of it. I went looking for a particular name and found it. I was born and grew up in northern New York, that qualifies me to love the city as my own. So I feel.

    My son now lives in Boston and I feel the same way about that city, too. It’s all so personal, isn’t it?

    These words, especially: “They will move with purpose and grace and dignity and faith because they understand the fight isn’t about showing the bad guys what we have. It’s about showing ourselves.”

    Amen to that.

    • Mary- There is a connection between these towns that transcends politics and baseball and all the other things they feud on in the every day. Now these two places share in the daunting reality that bad shit can happen any time and anywhere. I can feel you on the thoughts about your son and Boston. Yeah, we adopt places and they become ours, that’s a great thought.

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