---- — Patriots Day has a long tradition here in Massachusetts -- it’s the day we hold the Boston Marathon, and the day we celebrate our state’s leading role in the American Revolution.
This year it marks something else. It is a day that reminds us of the strength of the foundation that our Boston, our state and our country stand on.
Last year’s Boston Marathon will forever be etched in our memories for the terror and tragedy brought upon the city by the Tsarnaev brothers. The brothers killed three people -- including 8-year-old Martin Richard -- and injured and maimed over 260 others. These cowardly and evil brothers exacted their twisted agenda on a city and a nation that had given them a chance at a better and freer life. They inflicted pain and suffering on hundreds who had come out to watch a sporting event that celebrates some of best human qualities -- liberty, fortitude and endurance.
Immediately after the bombs detonated, we witnessed the strength of Bostonians and Bay Staters in the face of adversity. In the chaos, hundreds cooly administered aid and saved lives. Boston’s sophisticated network of hospitals and health workers demonstrated their ability to effectively handle a “mass casualty event.”
In the days that followed, as the Tsarnaev brothers hid in the shadows, they saw that they had not spread the fear and panic that they no doubt hoped for. Instead, Bostonians showed their resilience, their unity and their humanity in the face of an unknown and dangerous threat.
And in the last few hours, we saw Watertown police officers bravely face down the Tsarnaevs as a fury of bullets and homemade bombs were hurled at them. Surprised and outgunned, the first officers on the scene held their ground, and no doubt saved Boston and New York from what promised to be a bloody reign of terror.
Today, one of the Tsarnaev brothers is dead, and the other awaits his fate in prison. The marathon is stronger than ever. Tens of thousands of people have returned to Boston to take part in it. Those spectators and racers celebrate the human qualities that the marathon represents.
Marathons have their origins in a key Greek battle waged in 490 BC. The democratic city state of Athens defeated a much larger army of Persians that was intent on quashing the concepts of liberty that Athens represented. According to Greek legend, a messenger ran the 26.2 miles from the Marathon battlefield to Athens to tell of the victory. He died from exhaustion, but his legendary run endured for 2,500 years.
The Boston Marathon has been held on Patriots Day ever since its first running in 1897. The message intentionally conveyed by the Boston Athletic Association is clear. The marathon has been run, and will always be run, on the anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord. The race was meant to link the American concepts of liberty to Athens’ finest hour. The link was meant to remind us that the struggle for freedom is one in which our endurance, fortitude, and conviction will face the most difficult test.
Marathons draw a unique breed of people -- independent, dedicated, and well suited to face adversity. The Tsarnaevs misjudged the powerful human qualities that they tried to intimidate, harm and kill. These qualities are alive and well in Boston and in Massachusetts, just as they were in 1775 when our colonial forefathers fought for our freedoms.