A memorial grows at the Boston Marathon finish line. Running shoes, a finisher's… (Joseph Tanfani / Los Angeles…)
BOSTON -- At the corner of Boylston and Berkeley streets, two blocks from the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Sue Baker stood quietly for a minute Thursday with her 9-year-old son, Jackson, looking over an impromptu memorial: running shoes, a finisher’s medal, Red Sox souvenirs for kids, a children’s book called "Rabbits and Raindrops."
On Monday afternoon, the two were in the happy, noisy crowd at the famous last turn of the race, Hereford to Boylston, waiting to see Baker's best friend finish. They were close enough to feel the shock wave of the second bomb.
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“I wanted Jackson to see it. It’s a little overwhelming,” said Baker, 46, who lives close by in the Back Bay neighborhood. “We all kind of feel like, there but for the grace of God go I. We all had an angel on our shoulder. Some weren’t so lucky.”
On a glorious spring morning, cool and sunny, the Back Bay neighborhood was back to life Thursday, with people hurrying on their way to work past the barricades that still closed off the scene of the bombing. The upscale shops were reopening, but streets were crowded with satellite trucks and with military vehicles, and National Guard troops with automatic weapons still stood on corners and in front of hotels.
The shock and sadness still showed in the faces of people at the memorial, but there were signs of fight, too. “Boston You’re My Home,” said one green-lettered sign. “We are Boston Strong,” read another. On a nearby store, a banner: “Boston Doesn’t Blink. 2014 Training Starts Today.”
Many were wondering how the bombing would change the city and the race, a 117-year-old tradition on the state holiday of Patriots' Day.
“The Boston Marathon is special,” said Tony Morris, 66, who lives nearby on Berkeley Street. “It’s hard to say there’s a loss of innocence in Boston, but it’s so shocking. There can be no explanation that normal people can understand.”
Steve Giuliano of San Antonio, Texas, wearing his blue and yellow jacket from the marathon, stopped by, too. He was able to finish the race before the blasts. “I really can’t get my head around it,” he said, remembering past races where kids ran out to offer cups of water or bags of ice. “That’s what really lingers with me,” he said, speaking of the victims. “The little kids.”
Giuliano says he will be back next year. “I’m not going to let crazy people stop me,” he said. “You can’t live in fear.”
After the bombs went off, Baker and her son were standing next to a police officer. “I saw the look on his face, and then his radio started going: 'Stop the race, stop the race, we have to stop the race.' We started walking and started seeing waves of running people overtaking us. It was unreal.”
So Baker thought it was important that her son see the messages of strength and hope now. “We’re a strong city,” she said.
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