The message on the notice board outside the Long Reach Fire Station in Columbia, Maryland captures the tone of Howard County’s reaction to the bombing at the Boston Marathon on April 15. It reads, “Our hearts go out to you, Boston.”
Most people here related to the bombing as another event learned about through the news media. For some Howard County residents, however, their involvement was more personal. According to the Baltimore Sun, the Howard County Striders, a local running club, sent some 20 members to participate in the race. None of them was injured. But the Sun also reported that an Ellicott City woman who was in Boston to watch her mother run in the marathon was injured in the blasts and had part of her leg amputated.
Whatever our involvement, we feel ourselves linked to the people of Boston and those from all over the world who participated in the race. The firehouse sign captures our feelings elegantly.
Like the people of Boston and others across the country, we in Howard County are struggling with the question of what lessons we should draw from this tragedy. Some of us wonder whether we cannot do a better job of identifying outsiders who want to do us harm. They ask why we do not do a better job of screening the people we allow to enter our country.
Others view the bombing as a challenge to examine ourselves. Struck by the elder bombing suspect’s observation that he had no American friends, they ask how we can make those who elect to join our society feel more welcomed and included.
Like so many others, the residents of Howard County were horrified by the Boston Marathon attack and identify with the citizens of Boston. We will be struggling for some time to understand what lessons we should draw from the event.