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Dan Shaughnessy

Boston Marathon will never be the same

A first responder scoops aside a youngster after the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.BILL HOENK PHOTO

You live here, so you got the calls. And the texts. And the e-mails.

Are you safe? Are you OK? Were you there? Is everybody in your family all right?

This was one of those days when you found out how many great friends you have. Worldwide, word spread that Boston — the Boston Marathon — was under attack, and folks from other corners of the country and the world reached out to find out how you and your family were doing.

More end to more innocence. One of our best days is forever tainted. The 117-year-old Boston Marathon will never be the same. The journey from Hopkinton to Boylston Street is now a 26.2-mile stretch of yellow police tape. Do not cross.


Somebody (or some group) bombed the Boston Marathon. Cowards attacked innocent men, women, and children on Patriots Day. At least three people were killed, including an 8-year-old boy.

And there goes another piece of our freedom, another sacred and oh-so-local institution.

We honor some sweet and goofy things here in Greater Boston. Brave hearts swim in the ocean on New Year’s Day. In mid-February, local TV crews gather on Van Ness Street outside Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox equipment truck leave for Florida. Families stake out space on the Esplanade on the Fourth of July, and U-Hauls clog Commonwealth and Huntington avenues on Labor Day weekend.

Patriots Day is a sacred part of that tradition.

It’s an only-in-Boston thing. A reenactment of the Battle of Lexington. No school. No work. A Major League Baseball game that starts at the hideous hour of 11 a.m. Thousands of people lining the backroads and major avenues that lead into Boston from points west.

This is the day of Boston Billy Rodgers and Alberto Salazar and Johnny Kelly and Amby Burfoot and Joan Benoit Samuelson and even Rosie Ruiz. It’s about Clarence DeMar and Uta Pippig and the Hoyts and the Eliot Lounge and Heartbreak Hill. It’s about Wellesley girls, Kathrine Switzer, Jock Semple, and Will Cloney. It’s about Jack Fultz running in 96-degree heat, winning the “Run for the Hoses” in 1976.


President Barack Obama said it’s “a day that draws the world to Boston’s streets in a spirit of friendly competition.’’

Amen. The whole world is watching Boston on Patriots Day. We are truly global, the Hub of the running universe.

So this was a good place to make a statement, and now our quaint little event will never be the same.

We won’t be able to walk into Trinity Church or the Boston Public Library without thinking about the day the bombs went off. We won’t be able to step into the Lenox Hotel — where Red Auerbach lived when he coached the Celtics — without thinking about spectators being maimed. We will forever remember the day nobody could call anybody on a cellphone in Copley Square.

Everybody will have a story.

Sherrie Kaplan lives in Newport Beach, Calif., is 64 years old, and has run 17 marathons. This was her sixth Boston Marathon and she was running for the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team. Like most people on the course after 3 p.m., she had no knowledge of the bombs as she ran toward Kenmore Square. She ran 25.5 miles before she was intercepted by her son and my two daughters. She had to stop. And get out. My daughter called me from a pay phone and I was able to drive into Boston University to get them home.


Back at home, we were visited by a young man who grew up across the street. Kevin Fauteux, 33, was on Boylston Street in front of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel when the second bomb exploded. He was struck in his left knee by a flying piece of hatred.

“We were there to watch some friends finish,’’ he said. “The first one sounded like those muskets they shoot at Gillette when the Patriots score. The second one was right near us. It was a yard sale of people and body parts. The force of it blew human beings and baby carriages across the street. People were trying to finish the race.

“It was just chaos. We were lying on our bellies on Boylston Street. The most impressive thing I saw was the doctors and nurses racing to the victims.’’

There was a hole in his jeans, just below his left knee.

“Shrapnel,” he said, lifting his pant leg to expose a small wound. “I have to go to the hospital tomorrow.’’

So Marathon Day 2013 goes down as the day my neighbor’s son sat in my family room wearing jeans with a hole near the left knee from a bomb that went off while he stood near the finish line.

A dark day. A day that took away more fun, more innocence, more freedom.


Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at