The audience at Thursday night's Brookline Together Memorial was as diverse as the town's population. A sixtyish woman wearing an etched yarmulke sat in front of me, while to my right side were a couple of teenage boys. In the front rows were men and women in uniform, representing the Brookline Police and Fire Departments, and directly behind them, the sporty young Marathon runners of Team Brookline—identifiable by their white t-shirts emblazoned with the logo. A rabbi, a priest, and a minister of a Unitarian Church shared words of hope and healing.
We all gathered in Moviehouse One of the Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard Street, to pay tribute to the first responders of the Patriot's Day bombing attacks on Boylston Street in Boston. We rose from our seats and applauded the community's emergency personnel, police, and firefighters who displayed courage in the face of so much uncertainty—not only immediately after the explosions at the Boston Marathon finish line, but also for days afterward, when capturing the culprits was on everyone's minds.
Brookline's Board of Selectmen Chair, Betsy DeWitt, reported that all Brookline runners had returned home safely from the race. She also praised the ordinary citizens of the town who offered food, shelter, transportation, even hugs to stranded runners after the race was cut short.
"We are all one Patriot's Day community," Dewitt proclaimed from the podium, "One strong Boston community standing together."
Brookline Access TV provided a slideshow of pictures from both the Marathon and the aftermath of the violent events that shook a city and its suburbs to its core. Images of mourners, their faces illuminated by candlelight, a young female runner hugging her post-race Heatsheet® closer to her body and crying, an illuminated "Pray for Boston" sign—a whole city's sorrow and hope writ large on the movie screen. Equally moving were the bagpipes that filled the large hall at the opening of the ceremony, and the soft, lilting voices of Brookline High School's Camerata, solemnly singing Amazing Grace and America the Beautiful. At one point during the performance of America the Beautiful soft voices from the audience could be heard singing along.
Rabbi Sonia Saltzman of Temple Ohabei Shalom, 1187 Beacon Street, recounted how on that Monday the temple opened its doors to an estimated two hundred weary and confused runners to take shelter, have something to drink, and use the telephone to call loved ones. Brookline Police Chief Daniel O'Leary told a riveting play-by-play of the events leading up to the killing of bombing suspects Tamerlan Tsarnaev and the capture of his younger brother, Dzhokhar, who was discovered badly injured and hiding in a boat in the backyard of a Watertown residence.
O'Leary singled out the Department of Public Works and the thirty-five members of Brookline's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) for their courage and compliance. O'Leary also thanked the nine area hospitals' medical personnel who were instrumental in saving so many lives, the Brookline businesses like Budda C. Asian Bistro, Catering By Andrew, and Whole Foods, who donated food to the runners, and all the other area businesses who cooperated with police by closing their doors so residents could clear out of public spaces and retreat to the safety of their homes. He cited the individuals who cleaned Beacon Street late Monday so on Tuesday morning people would wake up to at least a semblance of normality.
Team Brookline marathon runner Liz Burke made the audience alternately laugh and tear up as she recounted the mile and a half she walked after being turned away from the finish line. She said she was quickly identified as a runner by her Heatsheet® and her generally disheveled appearance. "People I didn't know were hugging me, asking me if I needed anything. That mile and a half walk reminded me of all the good in the world."
To help the people most affected by the tragic events that occurred in Boston on April 15, 2013, you can make a donation to the One Fund at onefundboston.org. To donate to Team Brookline, whose members raise money for local charities, go to teambrookline.org.
See photo highlights here
~ byJennifer Campaniolo