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Patriots Day

patriotsdayWhen I first started writing this blog in 2006, I warned people that every so often I’d write about something other than Chinese history.  This is one of those times.  Don’t worry, I’ll be brief.

By now everybody has heard about the bombings at the Boston Marathon today.  Boston is not technically my hometown, but I grew up 40 miles away.  Boston was the center of our universe.

If you are from New England, then you know that today isn’t just marathon day, it’s also Patriots Day.  It’s easy to mock Patriots Day as a Mass-specific excuse for college students to take a day off and drink.  And it is. But it’s also the biggest public holiday in Boston.  People come to the city in the morning, catch the early Red Sox game (first pitch is at 11:00 a.m.), get drunk, and then stumble downtown to watch the runners puke their way across the finish line.  I’ve done it.  And so have thousands of other people.  It’s our weird Revolutionary War version of Mardi Gras.

A bombing is a tragedy always. But hitting Boston on Patriots Day is a blow to who we are. This is a day when everybody is out in the streets enjoying what is usually one of the first semi-warm days of the year.  It’s the beginning of spring.

And some asshole or assholes decided to blow it up.

This morning, I heard a story on WBUR about runners who after finishing the race just kept running.  They ran to help the wounded. They ran to the hospital to give blood. They ran to give comfort to those who had just witnessed the world being shattered in front of their eyes.

26.2 miles and they kept running.  Damn.

One of the hardest parts of living abroad is knowing that there will be times when we want to reach out to loved ones and be a comfort to family and friends. There may also be times when we ourselves are in need of comfort and those who we have turned to in the past are now many miles away.

Suddenly our little world of petty Lao Whines, of firewalls and bad air, of dead chickens and floating pigs, all seem so ridiculously petty and insignificant.

Today is a day to think of the people of Boston, the victims of this tragedy, and those who risked everything and ran toward an explosion because that’s just what you do when people need help.

Today really was Patriots Day.