The Bombing of Boston

Explosions rocked the Boston Marathon (courtesy of The Times UK)

As I’m sure everyone knows by now—given the extensive coverage on every possible news source—two bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday.

At last count, three people were dead and as many as 170 others were injured, some of them critically. And though a massive investigation of the 12-block crime scene has been under way since the attack, no suspect has been found and, as far as I know, police and the FBI have no clear leads.

The general feeling is that the bombing was an act of domestic terrorism. An attack by some outside group—like Al-Qaeda—has not yet been ruled out, though.

The bombs went off in quick succession as runners were approaching and crossing the finish line of the annual race. People were blown to the ground, shrapnel went flying and some even lost their limbs. One report even described the scene as being littered with blood and body parts.

Horrific.

According to the latest reports, the bombs were relatively low-tech, but were packed into pressure cookers that instantly became shrapnel once the bombs exploded. Similar devices have been wreaking havoc all over the world, most notably in the bombing of the Mumbai transit system that killed 130 people in 2006. Of course, one of the undetonated bombs recovered in Time Square a few years ago was also packed into a pressure cooker.

For those of you who don’t know your way around a kitchen—and I am certainly no expert, either—a pressure cooker uses a tight seal and increasing internal pressure to cook food in a short period of time. Packing a bomb into one immediately provides a metal casing that can then become shrapnel once the device detonates.

Think Swordfish, only without all the ball bearings.

Bystanders help an injured woman at the scene of the first explosion on Boylston Street near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon.

The pressure cooker bombs did serious damage (courtesy of Getty Images)

Since the attack occurred in such a high-profile place—people often pack the finish line to cheer on the runners who survive this brutal race—investigators are asking anyone with photos from the event to come forward. Perhaps something will reveal a suspect planting the bombs, but there are no certainties. There never are in situations like these.

About the only substantial evidence I’ve heard of thus far involves a dark-skinned man with a backpack who was trying to access a restricted area moments before the first blast occurred. Apparently, he may have also had a foreign accent, which certainly opens the door for international terrorism.

In many ways, this attack stirred up feelings that haven’t been experienced since the attacks of September 11, 2001. Some runners mentioned that they heard the first blast, but thought it was some kind of cannon being fired in celebration. Only when they heard the second blast—and noticed all the smoke billowing from the site—did they realize this was an attack.

Much like the second plane hitting the World Trade Center erased all doubt about this being some kind of accident, the second bomb in Boston proved this was a deliberate attack. And now we need to know who to hold responsible, which to this point has been no easy task.

True to form, however, radicals have been coming out of the woodwork not to claim responsibility for the bombings, but to express pleasure over the harm done to Americans. One such asshole is Mohammed al-Chalabi, the head of an extremist group in Jordan who served seven years in prison for his role in Al-Qaeda attacks against diplomatic missions in 2003.

American blood isn’t more precious than Muslim blood,” al-Chalabi said Tuesday. “Let the Americans feel the pain we endured by their armies occupying Iraq and Afghanistan and killing our people there.”

Before I continue, I feel the need to respond to al-Chlabi’s statement as any good American likely would: “If you don’t want the U.S. to ‘police the world,’ which is essentially what we have always had to do, then stop trying to wrest power away from everyone around you, invade defenseless nations for your own power and material gain and declare jihad anytime things don’t go your way. And if Muslim blood is so precious—and believe me when I say that all blood is precious, regardless of nationality, race, religion or political affiliation—then why take every opportunity to kill other Muslims? Is there an adequate translation for the word hypocrite in your language?”

Mideast Jordan

Al-Chalabi: Shut your mouth! (courtesy of the Associated Press)

Sorry about that, but I couldn’t help myself. It’s just funny to me how someone guilty of killing so many innocent people can claim to be abused and mistreated by the rest of the world. If you stop the violence and give peace a chance, then maybe everyone will finally leave you alone. Ever think of that?

Not to be outdone, the controversial Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas decided to chime in and tweeted that it would “picket [the] funerals of those dead by Boston Bombs.” Margie, the daughter of WBC leader Fred Phelps, even had the audacity to say this: “Memo to Boston police: Is it time to re-think that mistreat and abuse WBC policy you implemented many years ago?”

For the record, the WBC believes that tragedies like this one are God’s punishment for our immorality, especially with regard to gay marriage. In other words, if we hadn’t started to give gays the rights most of us feel they deserve, then God never would have injured and killed those people in Boston. And these people have the nerve to call themselves Christians? Even their leader’s daughter tried to turn the attention back to the WBC, and this after innocent lives were either lost or changed forever!

What a bunch of you-know-what’s. I would use more colorful terms, but unlike the folks at the WBC, I choose to behave like a “good Christian” and will not take the Lord’s name in vain. And I don’t even practice the faith!

Although we still don’t know the truth about what happened in Boston—and may not know for days, weeks or even months—I’m fairly certain that this wasn’t God’s will. If I’ve learned anything from my religious studies—and again, I am no expert—it’s that God seems to value free will most of all. Think about it this way: If God controlled every nit-picky decision that every human ever made, most of which are ridiculously mundane (“Honey, where should we go for dinner tonight?”), would it even be possible for Him to cover everything? I know what you’re thinking: This is GOD we’re talking about and the Creator can do anything. That’s true, of course, but you’re not asking the most important question of all.

Picketing in Topeka, with the group's signatur...

WBC: Westboro Baptist Church or World’s Biggest C—suckers? (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Would He even want to?

It sounds like a pretty boring job to me, not to mention an endless one. And if there really is a God, I like to think He’s focusing on more global issues, like world hunger and climate change. Or perhaps even some celestial things. After all, He also created the heavens, and it’s close-minded to think we’re the only planet, solar system or galaxy that needs His attention.

Regardless of the why behind this disastrous attack, the sad fact is that people died as a result and others will never be the same again. Many lost limbs from the blast itself or the damage caused by the blast, which required the amputation of limbs later. Others lost loved ones and will never see them again. And to me, that’s the real tragedy. So for a moment, I would like to honor those who left this earth prematurely at the hands of others who deserve to be in their place. Please bear in mind that the identities of all three victims have not yet been released; thus far we know of only two—all I know of the third is that it was a Boston University graduate student.

The first was Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager from Medford, Massachusetts, who died from wounds she sustained during the attack. Sadly, her father William was initially told by doctors that Krystle was in surgery and would live. When he went to her room afterwards, however, he discovered that the woman wasn’t Krystle at all. And it took help from a police detective to ultimately learn his daughter’s fate: Krystle was dead.

How terrible is that? Granted, there was a lot of confusion after the attack and trauma centers were swamped—I tip my hat to them for handling things so well, by the way—but that still doesn’t seem like a valid excuse. If anything, keep people guessing until you know for sure. They’re already stressed, upset and worried!

Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not saying people should be kept in the dark and left to worry until veins start popping or their hearts give out. But wouldn’t a brief, continued period of doubt be preferable to false hope? Poor William feared his daughter was dead, breathed a sigh of relief when he heard she was alive and then got thrust back into grief and despair once he discovered she really was dead!

I’m sorry, but to me that seems much worse. My heart goes out to William Campbell and his family, and I know Krystle will be missed. It really is a shame.

The second victim of this gruesome attack was truly as innocent as they come: 8-year-old Martin Richard.

Martin was in Copley Square—watching the race with his mother Denise and 6-year-old sister Jane—when the first bomb exploded. By the time the smoke cleared, the little boy was dead. His mother suffered a traumatic brain injury and underwent surgery, while his sister lived, but lost her leg. William Richard, Martin’s father, was visibly crushed and upset.

“My dear son Martin has died from injuries sustained in the attack on Boston,” the distraught father said in a recent statement. “My wife and daughter are both recovering from serious injuries. We thank our family and friends, those we know and those we have never met, for their thoughts and prayers.”

William was also a spectator, but managed to escape without harm, at least not physically. The emotional scars will stay with him for the rest of his life.

Even more heartbreaking are some of the pictures of Martin bouncing around the Internet. Last May, his school organized some kind of peace walk and had students carry homemade signs around town to send positive messages. On his sign—which was framed by hearts and the word “peace”—Martin wrote “No more hurting people.”

If only the perpetrator of this heinous crime had felt the same, Martin would still be alive and in his father’s arms. Instead, he is gone and life will never be the same for the Richard family. Please pray for them during this difficult time. Denise and Jane could use some extra prayers, too, since the road to recovery will not be an easy one.

Victims Krystle Campbell and Martin Richard (courtesy of Facebook and FOX News)

Victims Krystle Campbell and Martin Richard (courtesy of Facebook and FOX News)

I know that I keep pointing out how “life will never be the same again” for the families of the victims and everyone injured in this terrorist attack, but I think it’s just my way of coming to terms with this terrible situation. I cannot imagine what these people are going through and when I try, darting pain shoots through my heart. I’m not sure I could handle it and hope I never have to try, that’s for sure.

Incidentally, the living victims—like Denise and Jane Richard—have a lot of challenges ahead, as I mentioned earlier. For instance, I just heard about Paul and J.P. Norden, two brothers who went to the Boston Marathon to cheer on a mutual friend. Instead of enjoying their afternoon, they got caught in the blast and now each is missing a leg. Imagine some of the things they have to look forward to. I guess it is fortunate that they have each other for support—given they both face similar obstacles—but it still sucks. Life with two legs is hard enough, for goodness sake!

In the coming days, more stories like these will be told, but the mystery—namely the identity of the person (or persons) responsible for this vicious attack—may persist indefinitely. This seems like a very complicated investigation and, in that way, the attack appears to have been very well-orchestrated, at least from the perspective of a terrorist. So many people were milling about—and so many of them with bags or backpacks—that a long, drawn-out investigation was inevitable. About the only hope we have at this point are the multitude of cell phone videos and camera photos that witnesses have submitted to authorities for review.

Hell, every time Justin Bieber shakes his ass, someone snaps a picture. It stands to reason that someone in the crowd on Monday did the same of the bomb-dropping perpetrator, so I hope something pans out. I’m sure we will all be hearing about it soon enough. And I hope it brings us one step closer to catching the terrorists responsible for this attack. That way, we can guarantee they “feel the full weight of justice,” as President Obama so eloquently put it. Until then, however, all we can do is wait and wonder… and follow the example of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

“Boston will overcome,” he assured the residents of his great city. And like the people of Boston, we too will overcome.

It’s just going to take some time.

Posted on April 17, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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