, Derry, New Hampshire

June 6, 2013

Letter: Response to tragedy proves city's greatness

Derry News

---- — To the editor:

It has been a month now since the Boston Marathon bombings, and it’s finally starting to seem like life is returning to normal in Boston. While still very close to our hearts, the chaos surrounding the bombings is starting to seem like a distant memory, and the question is no longer how did this happen, but rather why — a much more important question, but one that leaves the people of Boston with a little less uncertainty. The bombings undoubtedly changed the character of Boston forever, but the response to these acts have caused me to do a lot of thinking about community.

I was in Boston about two weeks after the bombings, on a beautiful, sunny spring day, and it seemed as though the attack was already a distant memory. Everyone was outside, enjoying the weather, eating on patios and meeting with friends, and generally doing what people do when they are out in Boston: enjoying themselves.

At the Nike store on Newbury Street, people had left messages of condolence and love on the walls in sidewalk chalk for the victims, the runners, their families, and the city of Boston. It reminded me of the messages I saw on Facebook and Twitter in the hours after the tragedy — no one was angry yet, or accusatory, or anything even remotely negative.

All the messages I saw were of love or reassurance, stressing the positives in this situation. An anecdote from Mr. Rogers made the rounds, urging me and all my Facebook friends to “look for the helpers” and commending first responders for their service. At least 15 of my friends proclaimed “Boston, you’re my home.” And, reassuringly, all of my friends in the area took to social media to let everyone know that they were safe. The support for the city of Boston was overwhelming and full of love, and it made me proud to be from an area that pledged allegiance to Boston.

It also made me think about my own home. I know that Derry isn’t in the same league as Boston — not even remotely — but I would like to hope that if something like that were to happen in Derry, that the outpouring of love would be similar. As a town we have been fortunate enough that — in my lifetime at least — there have been no large-scale tragedies.

But tragedy is what brought out the absolute best in the city of Boston, and that I think is what makes a community great. I have a lot of Boston pride, and it shocks me that someone could do something so heinous, so close to my home. I have faith that in a town like Derry, our own “helpers,” whether they were first responders or innocent bystanders, would show the sort of fortitude that the people of Boston showed when their home was under attack, because I think Derry is a truly great community.

Abby Rugg