Patriots Day 2013 bloomed humid, sunny and hot. The runners would have their work cut out for them. I remember thinking that morning that my father had always preferred cool rainy days when he ran the Boston Marathon.
Donna and I were gearing up for a full on chick afternoon replete with chianti, snackage, couch-with-cats, and a Sex in the City marathon, much easier on the constitution than the 26.2 version.
We were halfway into the first episode when my cell phone rang. It was my sister Erin calling from her workplace in Brookline, and she was crying. Bombs, she wailed, someone had set off bombs at the Marathon finish line. Bodies were on the ground, smoke and chaos had flooded the Boston's Back Bay, and nobody yet knew how many people were dead.
The news stations were showing the same footage, over and over. Two explosions closely spaced and white smoke, lots of billowing white smoke. People were running, not victoriously towards the finish line, but away from it in panic. The small set of bleachers where the VIPs sat were empty and littered with debris. It looked like a war zone.
We watched in silence and horror, as the scene unfolded, wondering if there would be more bombs, how many people had died, and if we might have known any of the victims.
Our former place of employment was located just beyond the finish line on Boylston Street and we worried about our old coworkers and friends. I tried to send off a text message to one of them but I don't know if it ever went through. Massive amounts of calls were jamming all communications, leaving everyone isolated and dependent on what little television news was available.
I was reminded of when the planes hit the World Trade Center in 2001. When the first plane hit, I thought it had to have been an accident, a plane in distress that spiraled out of control into the heart of the city.
This catastrophe in Copley Square just couldn't be a bomb—who would do that? It must have been what some of the newscasters were reporting, a manhole cover explosion set-off by a burst steam pipe or something similarly unfortunate and accidental. The idea that a human being had set this tragic ball in motion, was unthinkable.
Horrifyingly, we soon learned that it was in fact a bombing and that people were dead, maimed and bleeding. Ordinary citizens had risen to the occasion and helped however they could. Heroes were made that day and some lives that might have been lost, were saved. But it was far from over. An historically huge man-hunt went down. Boston and our Marathon changed forever.
Which brings us to today. Two years on and Tsarnaev, the surviving bomber has been found guilty on all counts and is awaiting sentencing. Should he live, if you can call it that, in prison for the rest of his existence or should he be executed?
A life incarcerated? That is a fate I can’t wish on him or any other. It’s beyond barbaric—mercilessly savage.
But who are we to take a life? Even Martin Richard’s parents down’t want Tsarnaev sentenced to death.
“We are in favor of and would support the Department of Justice in taking the death penalty off the table in exchange for the defendant spending the rest of his life in prison without any possibility of release and waiving all of his rights to appeal,” they wrote.
They argued not against the death penalty itself but against what the continued pursuit of it would mean for them — endless appeals, never letting them move on, forcing their two other children “to grow up with the lingering, painful reminder of what the defendant took from them.”
“As long as the defendant is in the spotlight, we have no choice but to live a story told on his terms, not ours,” they wrote. “The minute the defendant fades from our newspapers and TV screens is the minute we begin the process of rebuilding our lives and our family.”Their reasons aren’t identical to mine BUT...still...against death.
Also too, word is that Tsarnaev wants to be put to death.
"Imposing it [the death penalty] won't undo the death and destruction Tsarnaev caused two years ago. The defendant has expressed a wish to die a martyr. I prefer that he have many years to reflect on his crimes."Die a martyr? Maybe he's simply thinking he'll get it over quick and physically painless-like (as long as you're not offed in Oklahoma)—he'd escape the slow, horrific death of a life in prison.
~Michael Capuano, US Representative (D-MA)
I’m just glad I’m not making this call.