I will remember…

I didn’t know this past Monday was a holiday here in Boston. As far as I can remember, there wasn’t such a thing as Patriot’s Day in Milwaukee, or anywhere outside of Massachusetts for that matter. I also forgot that the Boston Marathon was happening on Monday as well. Couple all that with gorgeous warm weather and the generally fun and relaxed atmosphere, and it just made for a beautiful day with two pleasant surprises.

I was heavily considering heading down to the marathon throughout the day. So many of my friends were either watching or actually running in the event. I respect anyone who even attempts to run a marathon; the preparation, the endurance and the determination required to try is something to, rightfully, be celebrated.

I was walking from class on Monday when the news flashed on my phone. Explosions at the marathon. For some reason, I thought it was using explosions in a metaphorical manner, like explosions of joy. Silent shock would be understating my reaction when I turned on the television to realize what “explosions” actually meant.

Oddly enough, it wasn’t until I got a concerned Facebook message from a friend in New York  asking about his girlfriend here at Harvard when I realized: “Wait, what if people I knew were there…?”

Thankfully, after several hours of texts, missed calls, and news-watching, no bad news regarding close ones came to my ears. It killed me inside to know that was not the case for many. The expression of terror, of uncertainty and frightened anxiety of runners, of spectators, of security personnel, and an overall tense atmosphere were ones I didn’t think I would see or feel again. There was a sense of relief, at least on my part, to see that this city and all of those who witnessed such a horrific tragedy, were committed to move on.

Thursday was only three days after the marathon bombings, but in many respects, it felt like months after that incident. It never even crossed my mind for Monday’s events to somehow unravel to a series of events that can only fit within a movie script. A killed Massachusetts Institute of Technology officer, a car chase through Cambridge that ran right past my window, a residential shootout and explosion, a full-city shutdown, and a manhunt for a kid younger than me, who was a high school classmate of a couple of my Harvard classmates.

Surreal. Surreal is really the only way to describe what happened around me this week. But I won’t say memorable. Even as I’m writing this, only a mere day after both suspects have been captured, the events aren’t what have stuck me, and they aren’t what I will recall moving forward.

I will not remember the images of Monday’s bombs, or the faces of the Tsarnaev brothers. No, I will remember those people who unhesitantly rushed to the victims of the bombs. I will remember the runners and spectators who helped each other out, comforting and keeping each other company in the midst of the chaos. I will remember the efforts of the medical staff at the marathon and the hospitals tending to the hurt.

I will remember those who attended the pan-religious candlelight vigil the next evening. I will remember the heartfelt public rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” in a Boston Bruins game on Wednesday. I will remember those individuals who, either through Twitter, Facebook, emails or by word of mouth, kept the rest of the student body informed of the events of Thursday/Friday while chaos erupted around our campus.

I will remember Harvard’s dining hall staff, who, even in the midst of the lockdown, came to work to help serve meals for our student body. I will remember the company of some of my closest friends as we helped each other release some of the tension of the lockdown.

I will not forget how BostonStrong did not just represent a cliché slogan but the truest description of this community. I will not forget how Boston became a tight-knit and proud family. I was born in Mexico and consider Milwaukee to be my hometown, but, today, I feel more than proud to attend college in Cambridge, and to live in this strong, Boston community.

These events often serve as a clear, visible demonstration of humanity’s worst deeds. But, that I think is a lie. These events present the brightest sides of humanity. The selflessness, the desire to help those in need, and the coming together of a community. This is what we need and should remember.