For a week after two bombs exploded near the Boston Marathon finish line, police and federal agents combed the vicinity. They closed fifteen square blocks for two days, then reduced their focus to twelve. They examined every item on every surface as potential evidence. They labeled and photographed the blast-scars on sidewalks, streets, and walls. Then, in the last two days, the Boston Public Works Department arrived to clean and re-pave the explosion sites. They planted a new tree where the second bomb detonated. And today, the last section of Boylston Street—the two-block stretch where the bombs exploded—re-opened to the public.
I visited this evening. At the site of the first explosion, there’s a small memorial of flowers, photographs, cards, and at least one marathon medal. Several dozen people gathered, mainly looking in silence, sometimes wiping away tears. Many took pictures.
Near me as I took my photos, a young woman sat in a wheelchair, with bandages around her lower legs. Her injuries had not, thank goodness, required amputation. A young man was with her. She spoke to him and gestured toward the bomb site, seeming to explain where she stood before the explosion. She remained a few minutes, then he wheeled her away. What a fathomless lottery of fate explains her injuries and her survival.
From what I’ve read, the bombs contained mainly nails and ball bearings. The nearby walls have some pock mocks, and many second, third and fourth floor windows remain boarded over.
The central branch of the Boston Public Library occupies the block across the street from the bombing. Incredibly, directly across from the first blast site, the library has a large banner advertising an exhibit of “Boston Sports Temples.” It features a panoramic image of the hallowed and haunted Fenway Park.
The marathon bombing site is a new Temple of Boston Sports. Amazingly, on this small slab of sidewalk, here is an emotional epicenter to rival even old Fenway: hallowed in an instant of blood and death, honored in what will doubtlessly be the city’s biggest and best marathon in April 2014.