Artifact #1: Boston Strong
Artifact #2: Fearless
Artifact #3: United We Stand
Harold Peterson, Student, Fitchburg State University
During the recovery process after the Boston Marathon bombings, many people showed great signs of perserverance. We showed unity and fearlessness throughout. It wasn’t an easy process, but we got through it together. When thinking about the healing process of the Boston Marathon bombings, I think about how strong, fearless, and united we were. Over everything one thing that stuck through thick and thin during this process was the phrase “Boston Strong.” Everywhere you look there were signs saying Boston Strong, even on t-shirts. This message was everywhere throughout the city. For many the message felt like a community coming together and helping one another, telling everyone we have your back. For others this message was a sign to keep pushing forward to healing and getting back to normal life. This message seen throughout Boston meant many different things to people. At this time Boston created a bond of strength that would continue until the present day.
For some this phrase may be uplifting and show the beauty of Boston. One person who thinks this is former Boston mayor Marty Walsh. Mayor Walsh said, “‘Boston Strong’ is our city’s resilience and spirit that carries us forward in good times and bad. ‘Boston Strong’ embodies our love for our city and its people, and what makes Boston the greatest city in the world” (Clauss). For many in the city this phrase meant just that. It brought positivity to Boston like no other, bringing smiles to many faces and lighting up Boston. This positivity was a great thing for Boston in this horrible time. When people see a traumatic event happen blocks away from their houses, they need something positive to ease their mind from the terrible things they have seen. Many injured by the bombs got an uplifting feeling from this phrase. They were empowered by it and pushed through their healing process.
A big part of Boston Strong is community and unity. Many people used the phrase Boston Strong to unite Boston. It was a way of bringing together the community as one and as a whole. The power of unity grew strong in Boston, and it inspired a lot of people in need of inspiration. When you talk about Boston Strong, unity is the most important part. When all of Boston came together to help and support, it meant a lot to people, and it stuck with them forever. Former Emerson college student Chris Dobens, one of the people who created the blue and yellow Boston Strong shirts, had this to say: “Boston Strong, to me, is much more than that T-shirt and just the simple phrasing. It’s been a lifestyle for me, helping people and being there for others in a variety of different ways, in my personal life and even in the community” (Clauss). For a majority of people who were outside of Boston, this phrase was probably seen as any old phrase, but this was something that brought everyone together. At this time all of us shared one bond: we all wanted to help people and we all wanted to get better. Everyone wanted to give to someone that needed it most. All of the giving and love in our community made us strong and resilient through the recovery process. Dan Soleau of Marathon Sports, who was 20 feet away from one of the blasts, believes, “Boston Strong is about how we get from point A to point B – the ups and downs, the despair and the hope, and the story it tells as we toe the start line together in Hopkinton and cross the finish line on Boylston Street. The pain, tears, stress, sorrow, hope and inspiration are a burden shared by a community - that is how we are able to cope as individuals. That is Boston Strong” (Soleau). The words Boston Strong meant much more to people than just being strong themselves but by helping others. As Soleau says we get through the ups and downs together and help each other in any way we can. Boston Strong became a message for Boston that we are one and we are here together. We aren’t just together, but we are now family.
Not only were we together, but we were strong. The one thing that kept many going was they took Boston Strong as a message to get stronger and better, especially for the many that had life-changing injuries that will stick with them forever. To have something like this hits hard for people because one day your life is normal and the next you must adapt to a new one. For many this phrase “Boston Strong” meant so much to their recovery. It was a message to keep pushing and to become fearless. In Artifact #1, the artifact is a prosthetic leg belonging to Roseann Sdoia, who is a bombing survivor. On this leg was a Boston Strong sticker. This sticker was put there for a constant reminder of what Boston Strong was for her. In this case she put this sticker on early in her recovery when she was trying to get back to a normal life, a life where she could learn to live with this plastic leg. She had something pushing her. The message on her leg reminds her that she should push forward and be strong. This is exactly what she did. Sdoia became a motivational speaker and an author, speaking to people about her experiences and how she has overcome these struggles. When you look back to the roots of what started her resilience you can see the phrase Boston Strong meant a lot to her. It was put on one of her first prosthetic legs and was used as a daily reminder. It was a way to inspire people and uplift.
People like Jeff Bauman had a very hard recovery. Bauman lost both of his legs during the blast and was close to death from the amount of injuries he had. According to an article by WBUR, he became a “public face of Boston's quest for justice and its desire to move on” (Ashlock). Bauman was a perfect example of this quest that all of Boston was a part of. He was a person very badly injured by the blast and had his life changed forever. Yet despite his horrible injuries Jeff survived and lives his life fully today. Boston was looking for people like this: people who had also been hurt from this and are doing well and pushing through. The people that are like this that push through this hard time inspired others to push through it as well. Boston Strong is also about being strong, but it's about being strong together. It's about inspiring others to continue their recovery and help each other. Being strong yourself is one thing, but to be strong together and inspiring others to keep pushing is the strength and unity that we need.
Boston Strong is a message with so many meanings and affects people in different ways. Being strong after an event like this is your best option because you need the strength to push through and persevere. Strength comes in many different ways in Boston, whether it’s strength in recovery or strength in helping others. Helping others was a big theme in Boston Strong and became a main definition for the phrase. This phrase bonded people together and helped people have the support they needed to be resilient. Boston had a unity like no other, a community of people no matter what kind of person they were or what political views people had, everyone was one. Everyone bonded with a common interest of being better and healing together. Some may have used Boston Strong as a way to show they were fearless. Boston Strong does not have one meaning. It has multiple meanings and inspires people in different ways. Boston Strong means unity, it means strength, and it is an inspiration for people to heal. This phrase is a message that will stick with Boston forever, and it is what keeps Boston united.
Ashlock, Alex. “The Marathon Bombing Survivor Whose Mission To Get 'Stronger' Inspired A Movie.” WBUR, 15 Sept. 2017, www.wbur.org/artery/2017/09/15/stronger-jeff-bauman.
Clauss, Kyle Scott. “Does 'Boston Strong' Mean Anything Anymore?” Boston Magazine, 17 Apr. 2016, www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2016/04/17/boston-strong/.
Marcelo, Philip. “With Every New Tragedy, Another 'Strong' Campaign: Where It Started.” ABC 10, 8 Aug. 2019, www.abc10.com/article/news/with-every-new-tragedy-another-strong-campaign/103-63d36e7e-8256-4d2a-bca3-cd94d09fd35d.
O'Connor, Ian. “Bostonians Take Back Their Town.” ESPN, 26 Apr. 2013, www.espn.com/new-york/nba/story/_/id/9214172/boston-boylston-street-site-marathon-bombings-open-business.
Soleau, Dan. “The Real Meaning of 'Boston Strong'.” Boston.com, 17 Mar. 2014, archive.boston.com/sports/marathon/blog/2014/03/the_real_meaning_of_boston_str.html.