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2013 Boston Marathon | The Memories We Choose

Nearly 40 injured victims were rushed to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the first hour—and all survived. Dr. Peter Fagenholz, a Massa­chusetts General Hospital (MGH) trauma surgeon, worked 35 hours straight. He had come on at 7:00 a.m. and performed six operations before the bombing, then scrubbed in on at least four surgeries, perhaps as many as six or seven, after it, working on the injured throughout the night; he finally left the hospital the following day at 6 p.m. An off-duty trauma surgeon, David King, also at MGH, had completed the marathon and was heading home when the explosions went off. Though physically spent from the race, he went straight to the hospital and went to work saving lives.

April 15 also showed us that the American Red Cross volunteers don’t simply appear like miraculous angels when things go terribly awry in far-off places. This was here, on Boylston Street, where nearly everyone who knows Boston has strolled. And this is who they are: In the days following the explosions, they served 47,247 meals and snacks to first responders, residents, and families; they arranged 3,644 mental-health contacts in the days that came after; they were on hand at 78 memorials, vigils, and gatherings for support and aid. Red Cross volunteers made certain that nobody had to feel abandoned or alone in Boston.

There were so many moments of courage and extraordinary kindness amid the noise and sirens that we can also choose to remember the quiet acts, the ones that happen when nobody’s looking. Think of Jessica Kensky, a nurse at MGH. She was newly married, and in a flash both she and her husband were wounded badly, each losing a leg. Coworkers—fellow nurses, cafeteria staffers, maintenance people—donated 7,000 of their time-off hours to Kensky—three and a half years’ worth. Because of that, Kensky has time to recover, to adapt to a life so suddenly changed, while remaining secure as a full-time employee with health-care benefits.

And here is one final memory, still to come. This year, on April 21, whether the day is warm or chilly, sun-splashed or gray, some 36,000 runners will await the call to begin in Hopkinton, finishing 26 miles distant in Copley Square. There will be a sea of athletes: young, old, men, women, able-bodied, in wheelchairs. A year earlier, many were forced to turn away before the finish. They’ve put in thousands of miles training to do what they love: to run in this beautiful city on a spring day, with tens of thousands of supporters pressed close on the streets, shouting for them to keep going. And as the miles go by, as they stream through Ashland, Framingham, Natick, and Wellesley, turning into Kenmore Square and down Commonwealth Avenue into the heart of the city, they will hear the shouts that will always be the true legacy of the Boston Marathon, the same as it always has been: Keep going, keep going.

Read Yankee vice president JD Hale’s personal account of the Marathon bombing.

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Mel Allen


Mel Allen


Mel is the fifth editor of Yankee Magazine since its beginning in 1935. His career at Yankee spans more than three decades, during which he has edited and written for every section of the magazine, including home, food, and travel. In his pursuit of stories, he has raced a sled dog team, crawled into the dens of black bears, fished with the legendary Ted Williams, picked potatoes in Aroostook County, and stood beneath a battleship before it was launched. Mel teaches magazine writing at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and is author of A Coach’s Letter to His Son. His column, “Here in New England,” is a 2012 National City and Regional Magazine Awards Finalist for the category Column.
Updated Thursday, April 10th, 2014

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One Response to 2013 Boston Marathon | The Memories We Choose

  1. Yankee fan April 19, 2014 at 7:58 pm #

    Such a beautiful and moving story. Your message is powerful, a testament to the heroes, the miracles, and the generosity of spirit that come out of such tragedy. Thank you for honoring the best in people.

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