The images of the explosions are seared into my memory. The sights and sounds of an innocent day turning into a nightmare will never be forgotten.
As I sat in front of my television Monday, glued to what occurred at the finish line at the Boston Marathon, I could not believe what I was watching. As someone who was in fourth grade during the 9/11 attacks and only has a small recollection of that day, this was my first real experience of a terror attack.
I scrolled vigorously through my phone, radiply refreshing my Twitter account for new updates. I listened to eyewitness after eyewitness recount the harrowing details of the carnage. I watched video after video, each with a different angle of what had happened, and one thing kept flowing through my mind: anger.
I was angry that something like this could happen again. Angry that there were no answers. Angry watching innocent people be rolled away in wheelchairs with blood covering their bodies. Angry that someone was roaming free after this cowardly act, feeling proud about what he, she or they had done. Angry that there was nothing I could do.
I felt helpless. Like most people, I started thinking about the people close to me. My sister, who is going off to college next year, desperately wanted to attend Boston College. I thought about if she was there, and what I would do. My mind was a rollercoaster. All the while, I sat in silence.
But after a while, things started to shift. Stories of great courage started to come in following the initial events. Runners, who after running a grueling 26.2 miles, continued on another two miles to local hospitals in order to donate blood for victims. Runners who were doctors and nurses hustling over to medical tents to assist the victims. And of course, the police officers and other brave first responders, who, following the initial blast, ran toward the destruction with supreme bravery after an act of extreme cowardice.
To say I was impressed would be a grave understatement. Had I been in the situation, I honestly cannot say what I would have done. But to know there are people out there who have the courage to rise up and do whatever needs to be done to help others is astounding.
As I lay in bed Monday night, reading more stories about the tragedy, including the death of 8-year-old Martin Richard who only wanted to watch his father finish the Boston Marathon, I wanted to rip my heart out of my chest. I was hoping I would wake up the next morning and find out the whole thing never happened.
But I kept thinking about the heroes who stepped up and I started feeling better. They showed that this country is still as strong as ever and one act of terrorism is not going to change that. Yes, there is plenty of heartbreak and sadness over what happened, but it will only bring us together even closer and make us stronger.
Someone tried to destroy the American spirit on Monday.
The first responders and the men and women who sprinted to hospitals proved that he, she or they failed. Miserably.