Kevin Cullen

Democracy marches on everywhere in Boston

In the days following the Patriots Day bombs, I took to saying that we in Boston take only three things seriously: sports, politics, and revenge.

Some objected to the sound of that last part, but that’s because they didn’t understand what I meant.

That revenge part is not about violence or vengeance. It’s about not letting the bombers and those who think like them get to us.


Our revenge is to, as the Brits like to say, carry on.

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And we have done that. Part of our ­revenge has been getting back to sports and politics. Our teams went back to business, and we went back to cheering them on.

Big Papi spoke for all of us when he told the bombers and those who think like them whose city this is.

The Celtics honored the first responders and medical people who saved so many lives, then willed their aging bodies to fight back against a younger Knicks team before falling.

The Bruins knocked it out of the rink not once but twice. They were the first to play here after the bombings, and the National Anthem brought the Garden down. But it was even better Saturday, when Jeff ­Bauman sat in his wheelchair on the ice and waved the Boston Strong flag.


He proved the bombers had failed. He more or less told them: You took my legs, but you took nothing else, and so you lose, losers. I will never describe Jeff Bauman as merely a victim again, because he is so much more than that.

We also got back to politics, picking ­finalists for a Senate seat and filling positions in municipal governments.

Bombs may kill and maim us, but they can’t cripple our democracy. Our revenge is more than going back to Fenway, the ­Garden, and the polls. It is returning to our streets, the same streets on which we were attacked, and we did that last weekend.

Sunday’s Walk for Hunger was a great show of generosity and community spirit. But some wrongly described it as the first large-scale public event since the ­Marathon. In fact, that distinction belongs to the run and walk to Home Base, which took place Saturday at Fenway Park.

Some 2,000 runners and walkers, includ­ing 500 active service soldiers, ­sailors, airmen and Marines, raised nearly $2 million for the Red Sox-sponsored Home Base program at Massachusetts ­General Hospital that treats the invisible wounds of war: traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Thousands more cheered them on.


My 16-year-old son Brendan ran in honor of his cousin, US Army Staff Sergeant Greg Pizzute and his unit, First Platoon, A Company, Fourth Brigade of the Third ­Infantry, who at this moment are fending off the Taliban’s spring offensive in Afghanistan. Seven Americans from different units were killed in Afghanistan on the same day as the race.

Before the race started, Boston’s own General John Kelly of the US Marine Corps, commander of the US Southern Command, thanked everyone for coming. He told a story of two Marines, one black, one white, standing side by side, firing at a suicide bomber driving a truck straight at them in Iraq. They knew they were going to die, but they never wavered, never backed down, and they saved many lives even as they lost their own.

Kelly remembers Secretary of Defense Bob Gates asking a Marine in Afghanistan if he wanted anything, and the Marine said, “Don’t let them forget what we do here; don’t let them forget our buddies that won’t come home.”

At the starting line, at the corner of Van Ness and Yawkey Way, there was a Boston police officer named Danny Keeler. He is a detective sergeant, and when the bombs hit on Patriots Day, he saved countless lives by keeping the access roads clear for ambulances in his forceful, inimitable style.

And there he was again on Saturday morning, back at his post, keeping us safe, smiling and shaking hands, Danny Keeler’s revenge.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeCullen.