EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 17, 2013

'Boston, you're our home'

City strives for strong spirit after bombings

Doug Moser
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — At North Station a different reality began to peek through the typical commute. Two men in green camouflage and bulging packs walked among the coffee and newspaper kiosks. A policeman led a dog through the streaming commuters, surreptitiously walking close to bags and small groups of people.

BOSTON — The bombs killed three people and caused injury to an estimated 170 others, but they were not enough to kill the spirit of a city.

The day after two bombs wracked the finish line at the Boston Marathon, Bostonians and visitors tried to go about their daily lives, but this time there was an increased police presence and the appearance of National Guard troops.

Children looked forward to going to the circus, tourists shopped at Quincy Market, people visited the Massachusetts State House and men and women went to their jobs in the financial district.

Yesterday evening, hundreds of people gathered for a vigil on the Boston Common, lit candles and sang songs including “Amazing Grace” and “The Star-Spangled. Banners declared “Peace here and everywhere” and “Boston, you’re our home.”

President Obama plans to visit Boston tomorrow to attend an interfaith service in honor of the victims. He has traveled four times to cities reeling from mass violence, most recently in December after the schoolhouse shooting in Newtown, Conn.

A commuter train going into Boston at 7 yesterday morning looked like the train every other morning. A group of women sat facing each other near the car door. An older man read a book. Another man leaned forward asleep. The ticket checkers strolled the isle, clicking their punchers at light speed.

Residents and tourists alike carried on with a day that was eerily similar to normal, but that contained just enough of the surreal to remind people of the devastating bombing.

But at Arlington it hit suddenly and at full force. National Guardsmen paced the Green Line platform, and clumps of two and three stood among a handful of Massachusetts State Police at the turnstiles. And on street level, police had barricaded off Boylston Street, media satellite trucks from around the country clotted the corner of Arlington and Boylston streets. A helicopter droned constantly overhead.

Commuters on trains arriving at North Station said yesterday morning was much like previous mornings. “I didn’t notice anything different,” said Monica Gaudet, of Peabody. She and a friend, Maria Schneib, also of Peabody, said besides the train being late and the policeman with the dog at North Station, nothing was out of the ordinary.

But normal was kept just at arm’s length near Boston Common and Boylston Street. Besides the street closing and the media swarm, the National Guard used part of the Common as a staging area. Rows of heavy humvees lined Charles Street as a group of people played catch with their dogs not 100 feet away.

“You can’t let it distract you,” said Sonia Bustos, who lives near the Common and was out with her dog. “Life is too good. You have to be focused on the positive things, though of course you’re sad.”

On Berkeley Street at the Hancock tower, Boston Athletic Authority officials were returning bags to runners, again under the gaze of National Guardsmen and police. Mindy Craven and Jeff Campbell, an engaged couple who ran 25 miles of the marathon Monday, were among many runners who got their medals yesterday morning. The race was cut short by the explosions, and many could not finish or claim their participation medals.

On Boylston Street near Copley Square, paper cups and debris blew up the deserted street in a gusty wind.

But people choked the sidewalks on nearby parallel streets, hurrying to work. Both locals and visitors went about their day despite the added security. People wearing marathon jackets looked for pizza in the North End. Couples kissed and tourists shopped at Quincy Market. Students sat on the Common and watched the police and National Guard mill about on Charles Street.

Some attractions were closed, but many more stayed open. Big Apple Circus carried on as planned at Government Center, and families sat on the brick steps and checked their tickets as heavily armed officers stood watch. Police vehicles from all over the state, including North Andover, parked along Cambridge Street.

Karen Olevitz and her family, who are Boston natives, sat on steps near the Government Center T stop, the circus right behind them. She said the police presence was overwhelming. “But my heart goes out to the family from Dorchester,” she said. “That hits close to home, so I’m glad they’re here.”

Chris Ritz and his family came in from Stoughton for the circus, and while his daughter seemed a little bashful, he said the deployments were a positive sign and to be expected. “It’s good to see them around,” he said.

The New England Aquarium closed, catching some visitors by surprise. Lennie and Bonnie Chancey, of Sacramento, Calif., landed at Logan Airport Monday just as the bombs went off.

The Chanceys took a trolley tour of the city yesterday and stopped afterward at the Aquarium, but were disappointed to find it closed.

“It gives you a little more of a feeling of security,” Lennie Chancey said of the added security. “But if it’s going to happen it’s going to happen. If someone is intent, a singular person, there isn’t anything you can do to stop them.”

Officials said yesterday the police and National Guard presence on the streets and on the T would continue for the time being while the investigation is ongoing.

“The job of the National Guard is to secure the crime scene,” Gov. Deval Patrick said yesterday afternoon. “I can’t tell you when that job will be done.”

The FBI said they know of no more immediate threats, and have begun collecting forensic evidence from the scene of the explosion for analysis.

Anyone with information, pictures or video related to the bombings should call the Boston mayor’s hotline at 617-635-4500 or the FBI hotline at 1-800-CALL-FBI.