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Boston Marathon tragedy: How do we move on?

April 16, 2013|By Alexandra Le Tellier

The attack on the Boston Marathon, which killed three people and gravely wounded many others Monday, sent a chill around the country. Learning that the explosives were detonated near victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting massacre, to whom the last mile of the marathon was dedicated, was an extra twist of the knife. It should have been a celebratory day. Instead, Copley Square was left stained with the blood while the rest of the city was rocked to its core.

"There’s something particularly devastating about an attack on a marathon,” wrote Nicholas Thompson in a reaction item on the New Yorker’s website. On one hand, it’s an “epic” event and the runners seem superhuman. On the other hand, “it’s also so ordinary. It’s not held in a stadium or on a track. It’s held in the same streets everyone drives on and walks down. An attack on a marathon is, in some ways, more devastating than an attack on a stadium; you’re hitting something special but also something very quotidian.”

In Iraq, points out the Chicago Tribune’s Steve Chapman, such an attack wouldn’t have even made the news. It’s a “reminder of how extraordinarily rare terrorism is in this country,” he wrote, arguing that our country naturally protects itself against terrorism. He argued: “Fortunately, America is just not fertile ground for violent religious or political extremism. In a free, democratic society, the sympathy for expressing one's views through murder is very low. That's our greatest protection against terrorism.”

PHOTOS: Explosions at Boston Marathon

That’s probably not much comfort for people who are terrified of another attack, though. We can’t let our guard down, Commentary’s Jonathan S. Tobin warned. Even though attacks on U.S. soil are rare, “we live in an age of terrorism.” His bottom line: Don’t drop the ball on counter-terrorism efforts.  

There were some pockets of light in the midst of Monday’s tragedy. In a Facebook status update that surely went viral, comedian and writer Patton Oswalt spoke about all of the good people in Boston who ran toward the explosions to help. In an editorial, the Chicago Tribune also pointed out the good in people -- if not irrational -- and how we don’t lose hope even when we feel helpless. “We have been here before, we will be here again,” the board wrote. “We have survived many terror assaults, and whatever comes next, we will survive that, too. We have learned these things about ourselves.”

Jeb Golinkin echoed this sentiment. In a post for the Week, he argued that “a marathon is ultimately a test of toughness and resolve. Those who run them typically do so to prove to themselves that they can fight through great adversity and still prevail. This nation's history shares the same spirit that the marathon showcases, and as we always have, we will prevail.”

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Follow Alexandra Le Tellier on Twitter @alexletellier

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