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In wake of bombing, faith in people restored

Date: 4/24/2013

By Chris Maza

Editor's note: Reminder Publications Assistant Editor Chris Maza was on vacation when he learned of the tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15. Without a computer, he pulled out his phone and started writing his thoughts.

I'll admit it: I lost faith; I can't tell you for how long exactly, I can tell you why, though.

I wasn't in Boston when the cowardly act of placing a backpack filled with an explosive device in the middle of a crowd at the Boston Marathon took place on April 15. Like most of the world, I was fortunate to only watch in horror on a television in a safe location. In my case, it was the student union building at Duke University where I was visiting as part of my vacation.

Looking at the initial raw video that CNN ran over and over, I quickly realized that the location where one of the bombs exploded was where I was standing three years ago while watching my wife complete her first Boston Marathon.

If I could only use one word to describe the scene that day in 2010 would be "pride."

Family and friends watched with pride as their loved ones crossed the line. Participants beamed with pride in accomplishing an impressive athletic feat while that family, along with throngs of complete strangers cheered, clapped and rang cowbells to urge them on. A city was filled with pride while reflecting a nation's pride in being able to bring people of many nations, creeds, ethnicities, religions and political views together.

It wasn't about a race; it was about people.

Three years later, I watched as what for years was one of the purest forms of humanity was ripped apart by hatred.

I lost faith. I lost faith in the notion that we, as a general rule, are safe. I lost faith that we could live in a world where we wouldn't have to be afraid. Worst of all, I lost faith in people.

Not long after, however, the stories of bravery began to flood my consciousness and the resiliency of the people of one of the nation's proudest cities began to shine through.

Citizens worked alongside emergency personnel to save the lives of many. The Red Cross overflowed with donations to the point they had to turn people away. The men and women in all branches of law enforcement showed amazing bravery in order to bring the perpetrators to justice and the public played a crucial role in completing that mission.

All the while, there was an outpouring of support for the people in the Greater Boston area. Banners and signs sent messages of hope. Funds were established to help the victims. Though the term "Boston Strong" started out as a social media hashtag, it became a rallying cry for a city, a state, a region and a country.

Boston is a unique city for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that almost everyone living in this state – and many in other states – feels a personal bond with it. Whether it was proximity, a sports team, a university, a place of business or something else that brought you to the city, it was the people that defined it and made it alive for us all.

And I realized that all of this wasn't about a race, it was about people.

People didn't cry for buildings. They didn't donate money for roads. They didn't pray for Fenway Park or the TD Garden. They didn't give blood for a school. They did whatever they could for people, even if all they could offer was a prayer.

On April 15 at 2:50 p.m., I lost my faith in people. In the week that followed, people gave it back to me and I'll never lose it again.