April 21, 2013


Twisted echoes of Boston's turbulent past (Simon Schama, 4/18/13, Financial Times)

For years we lived in Lexington, and my wife and I would take the children to see the re-enactment of the battle before dawn, brimming with mixed loyalties but exhilarated by the drama that made history echo with the crack of muskets. It was high-class reconstruction, impeccable to the last detail of uniform, with British regulars looming out of the darkness to a steady drum beat, their major barking out the command to the "damned rebels" to lay down their arms; the volley and the return snap of musket fire; a general flight of the surviving Minutemen. Then, as light came up, we all trooped off for the fried dough that owed more to Boston's Italian history than to 1775.

People thronged to Lexington from professorial Cambridge; from patrician Back Bay; from sylvan Lincoln and Wellesley, and from the gritty, "triple-decker" apartment blocks of Everett and Medford. Brit or Patriot, ferociously Irish (Noraid collection boxes could still be seen in the early 1980s in newsagents in Charlestown) or gently Armenian, we were all there, linked in a communion of memory; explaining to our kids what had been at stake all those centuries before; why it still mattered, why it was about something that changed the world.

The mutilations of Patriots' Day 2013 were enacted in mindless cruelty, not mindful remembrance, and will change nothing; not even, one hopes, the public's state of mind at all the sporting events that constitute the city's true calendar of devotion, with Fenway Park, where the Red Sox baseball team play, its cathedral of light.

Above all, the futile atrocity will not damage Boston's sense of itself as a city that refuses to be flattened into a generic version of urbanism, with the same malls, multiplexes and multistorey car parks controlling the rhythms of city life.

David Ortiz's speech caps emotional ceremony (Julian Benbow, 4/21/13, Boston GLOBE)
Looking out at the faces in the crowd, people who had come to Fenway Park to escape, to celebrate, and recapture some of the normalcy they had lost, David Ortiz felt what they were feeling.

"This past week, I don't think there was one human being who wasn't affected by what we got going on down here," Ortiz said. "This past week for me, myself, I was very emotional and angry about whole situation and got to get that out of my chest and make sure our fans and everyone in the nation knows that this is a great nation and part of it was supporting each other when everything went down."

At the end of the ceremony that preceded the Red Sox' 4-3 win over Kansas City, Ortiz's microphone was hot and his words were clear:

"This is our [expletive] city, and nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong."

He later apologized for the swear, but not the sentiment. But in the wake of incomprehensible terror, the words were forceful, defiant, and proud.

"I'm from the Dominican Republic and the one thing that I always say is me and my family are blessed by being in this country,'' Ortiz said. "And I love this country and I would do anything for this country. Everybody was one unit and that's what matters."

Posted by at April 21, 2013 9:09 AM

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