Archived Story

Editorial: What will we do before next time?

Published 10:01am Thursday, April 18, 2013

Oh, goodness, no. This isn’t happening. Can’t be happening again.

Another attack. Not a mass shooting this time, but explosive devices. Two of them left near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, one of America’s most-celebrated, most-iconic and longest-lasting traditions and events. Tens of thousands fill the historic Eastern city every spring to run or to watch.

At least two of them were killed on Monday, according to initial reports. Dozens more were injured when an ordinary sports story became extraordinary news.

“Senseless loss,” President Obama said. “On days like this there are no Republicans or Democrats. We are Americans, united.”

Americans with questions, especially in these moments and hours after the smoke clears. Who could have done this? For what purpose? Was it to send a message? What message? What is wrong with some people? Are we safe? Anywhere?

We watch the never-ending video loop on the TV. The concussive blast. The runner in the street, his knees buckling and then giving way before he sways and falls. The responders rushing into the dust cloud. Others fleeing. We watch, but we don’t understand. We read newspaper accounts and Facebook posts and try to make sense. But there is no sense. Our questions aren’t answered, can’t be answered, not all of them.

We don’t know what to do, so we send along our condolences, as Grandma’s Marathon did yesterday: “We are extremely saddened by the tragedy. We want to pass along our thoughts and prayers,” the Duluth marathon’s Executive Director Scott Keenan said in a statement. “The safety of our runners, volunteers and spectators (in Duluth) has always been our main priority, and rest assured we will be reviewing and examining our security measures and protocols with the appropriate agencies. In the wake of today’s heartbreaking news, however, we want to keep the immediate focus on those affected in Boston.”

Boston now joins an unusual and infamous list of attacks in the month of April: the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in 1983, Waco a decade later, Oklahoma City in 1995, Columbine in 1999, and Virginia Tech in 2007.

Answers about what happened and why, no doubt, will come, just as they did after those and other moments of horror, of terror.

Unsatisfying answers.

And then what? What will we do? Anything? Anything before the next time we’re left aghast and in disbelief and asking the same questions, asking whether this is really happening again?

What did we do after Sandy Hook? What has Washington done?

— Duluth News Tribune, April 16