April 15, 2013

Every year, Patriots’ Day is marked on my family’s calendar much like every other major holiday. Similar to thousands of other people around the world, we count down the months, weeks and days leading up to this day as my dad has been an active participant of the Boston Marathon.

In 2013, my dad had trained for months to complete his 8th Boston Marathon. At the time, I was a freshman at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore and had flown home to surprise my family and cheer on my dad.

As many remember, April 15, 2013 was a cool, bright Monday. The day had begun similar to that of every other year. As was tradition, my mother, sister, and I traveled into Boston and were fortunate to be standing in the grand stands at the finish line.

My dad had completed the marathon only eight minutes before the horror took place that would change the future of this event and the city of Boston forever.

The description of this experience continues to be difficult for me to describe. Seconds before the bombings, I was overjoyed and proud to know that my dad had crossed the finish line. I remember the flags, the steel fences, and several rows of people along the sidewalk cheering and enjoying the excitement with their friends and families. Seconds later, all I could see was grey smoke. The colored flags and the hundreds of individuals were no longer visible.

The following minutes were full of panic to escape the scene, the overwhelming sounds of ambulances and an indescribable feeling of disbelief. To this day it is the chaos, the sirens and the panic to find my dad with the lack of cell reception that are the most difficult to describe and the hardest to forget.

After experiencing the Boston Marathon bombings, it has made me value every day and appreciate the world around me. Although the emotional aspect of this event is still something my family and I struggle with, the Boston Marathon has become an even more special time of the year.

It took me almost a year to return back to the finish line and even longer to view this day in a positive light. I will forever be thankful that I am physically well and continue to be mindful of those who were not as fortunate as I was.

This year, my dad will be completing the Boston Marathon marking it as his 10th marathon overall. As I will not be returning to the finish line this year, I plan to cheer my father and thousands of others at mile 21.

Let us remember April 15, 2013 giving attention to the love, care, support, and growth of the people of Boston. Let us not give attention to those who hurt us. Let us not reward and focus on the hatred and negativity this day has brought, but move forward and be thankful for what we have.

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