Gettysburg College mourns with Boston

A Buddhist shows support for the victims of the Boston bombings during a moment of silence near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 22. Photo by Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

A Buddhist shows support for the victims of the Boston bombings during a moment of silence near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 22. Photo by Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

By Sarah Van De Weert, Staff Writer

The country was shaken by an act of terror once again on April 15.  This time the target was the Boston Marathon.  Nine days later, the suspects have been caught—one dead, the other hospitalized—and Boston’s Boylston Street is reopening.

For many Gettysburgians, this attack was very close to their homes, their families and their friends.

Junior Jenna O’Connell shared her initial reaction to the attack: “I’m a Boston-area native so I had a lot of friends and family who were affected by the bombings directly. I was at my internship here in D.C. when I found out about the explosions and my heart stopped because I knew my brother was going to be there spectating, my cousin works right around the corner from the site and I had numerous friends running in the race and who live around town,” she said.

“I texted my mom right away and she replied back saying that my brother was fine. We came to find out later he had been at the site of the bombings 20 minutes prior. His friends and he had left to catch a train home. They actually had the time of the train wrong though; it was an hour later. If they had had the right time for the train, he still would have been there when the bombs went off. I am so thankful that it ended up that way, and that he is safe.

“My cousin worked very close to where the bombs went off, and he told me that the windows in his office shattered and they had to evacuate the building. Thankfully he is fine as well,” O’Connell added.

Junior Kaytie Innamorati also knew people who had very close calls with the bombings.

“One of my friends lives in Heartbreak Hill which is on mile 21, and she joined her father for the last few miles of the race.  They finished two minutes before the bomb went off.  So they were there—they just kept talking about the destruction and devastation,” Innamorati said.

“Another friend finished right as the bomb was going off.  And yet another friend, she couldn’t stop—I am so grateful she got a leg cramp about two miles from the finish, she had to slow down.  She finished four-tenths of a mile when the bomb went off, so she would have been right there had she not gotten a leg cramp.  And you know, just could have been utterly—very badly hurt.

“And yet another friend was a spectator where the bombs went off.  Thank God her sister got cold and they left just before it happened.  They were not there.”

Many had friends who experienced not the bombings, but the aftermath.

“I’m from about 30-45 minutes outside of Boston.  Most of my friends generally go every year.  I had a lot of friends who were at the Med tents after the bombings helping and tending to it, so I was getting Facebook updates ‘It’s bad, it looks bad,’” said Innamorati.

Senior Lauren Dunne also spoke about the aftermath. “My old physical therapist was working at the medical tent in the city and expressed how terrifying it was to have to tourniquet so many legs after the explosion. She said it was very chaotic and scary.”

Gettysburg students were not the only ones with personal connections to this tragedy.  Innamorati related her initial thought process and that of her professor.

“I found out—I was in lab and my lab professor’s from Cohasset, which is about 40 minutes from Boston, so we were all panicking trying to figure out what was going on.  And what we couldn’t understand was why the marathon? Why would you bomb runners?” Innamorati said. “And we couldn’t understand it, and slowly we started to piece it together that it’s an international event.  That’s why.  There are 27,000 runners and the help teams and there’s six to 10 or more […] colleges  [in Boston] and the people of Boston—it’s a big event.

“And then we started thinking, but why…it didn’t kill that many people, what was the point so what was the point?  Obviously to maim as many people as possible, to cause as much destruction as physically possible, to try to hurt as many people as possible.

“And then the next thought was they picked the wrong city.  If they wanted to scare a city, they picked one that is not known for having mild temperaments.  This is not the city you choose if you want to cause destruction.  I don’t know what city you actually would choose.  They picked the wrong city, they picked the wrong country.  We’re gonna pick up and keep going, so nice try.”

Many students expressed the idea that although the nation does feel the shock of this act of terror, only those from the Boston area feel it fully.

“Gettysburg students I think are aware of what’s going on, but only the students from the Boston area really feel the effects of it,” said Dunne. “There has been a ton of support for everyone here, but I think we all feel very far away from home.”

The investigation and search for the suspects took only a few days.  The city of Boston was shut down and, after the death of one suspect, the fatal shooting of a MIT police officer and the wounding of another suspect, the hunt was over.

O’Connell had friends affected by the search for the terrorists. “Another friend of mine was just telling me that his apartment was swept by the SWAT team during the current manhunt that is going on. A lot of my others friends are stuck inside because they are in that area.”

Dunne expressed the anxiety of being so far from home while this was happening.

“My parents have an apartment in the city and it has been very tense this past week because I have worried about them. Especially today as the whole manhunt unfolds it is very stressful to be this far away from home.”

Innamorati gave her opinion on the investigation and how the police handled it.”

“I just remember thinking there’s no way they’re ever going to get them.  How could you figure it out? And lo and behold, a week later, it’s over.

“I think they [the police] were fantastic.  Yes, they had to shut down blocks of the city.  Yes, people were terrified.  But I think they did a really great job of just getting everybody together.  Everybody was trying to work together—the citizens asking them not to not post on Twitter, not to post on Facebook, show pictures, say who’s being searched, it’d be helping the criminals.  I think the way they went about it was extremely well thought out.  They stayed calm.

“I saw a really cute picture of one police officer.  There was a family who didn’t have any milk and he went and got them two gallons of milk so that they could have cereal while they were locked in.  I’m very proud of them [the Boston police].  I’ve always liked them a lot.  I think the entire situation was handled and as neatly with as few casualties as possible.”

Many have been questioning the legality of the investigation and how it was handled in that it may have denied people the rights that they are guaranteed by the Constitution.  Innamorati expressed how she thinks that they handled the investigation properly.

“Sometimes you need to act first and apologize later.  I know that sounds terrible but sometimes you just…if they didn’t act—they found that he had more bombs.  One of my teachers from high school lives in Watertown and lives in the area that was shut in and he arrived home from work yesterday [Monday] to find that they were still searching the area for more pipe bombs because he had littered the streets with them.  So he was trying to cause more damage.”

“So yes, they could have been, it should have been a more legal approach.  That would have been the most humane and legally correct thing to do, but the obviously, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are not playing by the same rules.  You have to play by their rules in order to get them.”

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed by police, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger brother, remains hospitalized due to gunshot wounds.  Tsarnaev is being charged in civilian court with use of a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property resulting in death.  Reports have been coming out recently saying that he was not behind the attacks, but was brainwashed.

Innamorati spoke of the controversy now surrounding his arrest. “He is a US citizen.  People were saying why were James Holmes [the Colorado shooter] and Adam Lanza [the Newton shooter], why were people not calling for them to be given the death sentence?  Why was an investigation not immediately not launched into his mental state?  Because he’s Muslim.  He’s not a natural born U.S. citizen.  It was a blog—I believe a Harvard student was writing it—saying why the only reason is because he’s not a white, Catholic native American born citizen.

“I don’t know.  It’s so frustrating.  Because of course, everyone deserves the same basic rights, but so do the people that they maimed and killed, so I don’t entirely know where I stand on that.

“He was brainwashed by his brother and I don’t know what to feel about him anymore.  I know I feel terrible and obviously he deserves the worst punishment they can come up with.  But does he deserve to die?  That’s the question that I feel, as angry and furious as I was, and as much as I’m sure the families of the wounded and the deceased would be calling for his head, I don’t think I’m the person who could say he deserves to die or not.  I would never want to be in that position.”

First-year Jesse Siegel gave his opinion on the arrests, “I originally considered the bombing an act of domestic terror. I think it should continue to be regarded as such. While the terrorists may have been inspired by radical Islam, the suspects, yes, I did use to separate words as it is possible that they have the wrong man until proven guilty, have lived in this country for more than ten years, with one even attaining citizenship. This should be an opportunity to reexamine how our culture treats Muslims and immigrants generally.”

The students also shared their opinions of how they think Boston has been handling this situation and how it will continue to recover.

“Growing up in the town [Hopkinton, where the race starts] that has this amazing day once a year makes this whole bombing seem very close to home. The race will never be the same and neither will Boston,” said Dunne.

O’Connell expressed her pride for the people of Boston, “So far, I have been very proud of the city I call home in the way it has been handling this. Bostonians are tough people, and they have been showing that.”

Innamorati spoke of the marathon next year and Boston’s current attitude. “The marathon next year will probably have one and a half as times many runners.  There will probably be charity groups running for each and every member of the wounded and I feel like it will be, the streets will be just as packed as usual because that’s the only way to really say, ‘We don’t care that you tried to hurt us.  We are stronger than that and we’re not going to let you change our way of life.  We’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing since the 1800s and you’re not gonna mess with that.’”

“I was reading an article saying we should just pick up, don’t leave a memorial, just completely leave the streets, that’s just the best way to say, you know what—I don’t know about that.  The same way with the 9/11 memorial, I think there should be memories; I don’t think just pretending this is common place and we don’t care is also the best way to go about it.  I think Boston will pick up and carry on, but no one’s going to forget.  I think, I can assume, next year there will be a very large gathering specifically in memory of what happened this year to say, ‘We don’t forget, but we’re not going to dwell,’ I think is the best way of saying what seems to be Boston’s attitude right now.”

Innamorati spoke of the lessons that we take away from this horrific tragedy. “I don’t know if what we learn from this is to tighten down security, I don’t know what lessons we take away from this, except that there is evil out there and there are people who are always going to try to hurt those who cannot defend themselves, those that are running for charities or other, selfless people.  And it’s unfortunate, but I think the way that Boston’s carrying on, the way that New York rallied after 9/11, is just the best thing that we can do. Just keep going.”

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Author: AnnaMarie Houlis

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