When the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon finish line last Monday, the entire city was flabbergasted. Friends, loved ones, and even professors checked in to make sure I was ok. All we knew was that a graduate student from BU was dead, but no one knew who.
We were constantly reminded to stay ‘vigilant,’ via text updates, news briefs, and email alerts. My place of work evacuated their premises and cancelled all events.
The days continued, Lingzi was identified, as the bright, fun loving statistician from China, who only happened to be in the wrong place at the fatefully wrong time. Our entire community mourned our loss, scheduling memorials, and formulating a scholarship in her name.
I had been looing forward to the HKS Week of Public Service, where I was to take a half-day off work to participate in my assigned philanthropy “Liters of Light,” spending the afternoon crafting renewable light bulbs from recycled bottles to donated to needy communities in the Philippines. But sadly, this wasn’t to be.
The night before, Harvard alerts kept me informed as the shootout that culminated with the death of 26 year old MIT security officer Sean Collier. However, no conclusive links to the marathon bombings were suggested, and it came off as an unrelated tragedy.
In other words, it was a shock to wake up to find we were under lockdown. Only one neighborhood away from the search perimeter, we were told to not open our doors for anyone except an identified police officer.
After a day of waiting, the bombing suspect appeared nowhere to be found, and the lockdown was lifted; we were free to move about.
I was watching the news, watching Anderson Cooper interrupt everyone, and watching Juliette Kayyem, one of the professors from the research center where I work eloquently analyze the components of the terrorism at play.
It was wild, hearing gunshots on TV. The sirens that followed were audible both on the news and in real life, as they whizzed by our apartment in real time.
The standoff ensued: injured suspect, heavily armed forces, coming to the most peaceful of all possible conclusions.
Finally it was finished, and the city was free.
We may face liberation, but we will never forget.☼