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2013 Spring Issue 2 (April 19, 2013)

“Anyone Could Have Been There"

April 23, 2013
By J.M. Hanley

It was in Lexington, Massachusetts, that the shot heard ‘round the world was fired.  So it should come as no surprise that echoes from the dual blasts in Boston on Monday reverberate here at Carleton.

“The fact that such a collective and, for lack of a better word, fun event was seen as a target is just scary,” said Henry Edelstein ’14 of Cambridge, MA.

The finish-line bombings left three dead and injured 176, 17 of them critically.  As of Thursday morning, authorities had visually identified two suspects using surveillance cameras but had not yet made an arrest.  

Meanwhile, state and national leaders gathered at an interfaith service in downtown Boston.  Among them was President Obama, who, referring to his days at Harvard Law School, declared that “for millions of us, what happened on Monday is personal.”

This point in particular seemed to resonate with Carls from Massachusetts.
“I went to the marathon every year since I can remember before coming to Carleton,” said Kayla Jackson ’14, who lives in the suburbs of Boston. “I didn’t really believe what had happened because I always felt Boston was such a safe place.”

Edelstein agreed.  “Everyone goes to the marathon in Boston.  The whole city comes together,” he said. “Basically, anyone you know could have been there.”

But both he and Jackson expressed pride in “the selflessness” that their fellow Bostonians displayed in reacting to the bombings.

Edelstein also noted that it gave him a new perspective on “the worldwide atrocities in the news that are so easy to look at as just another headline.”

Many students from other regions of the US, however, did not feel personally impacted.

“I’ve never been to the East Coast, so while I feel sympathy for the victims and their families, I don’t feel more sympathy than I do for victims of terrorism worldwide,” said Zach Raph ’16, of Zimmerman, MN.

The day following the bombings, Carleton hosted a candlelight vigil organized by chaplain Carolyn Fure-Slocum ‘82 in honor of the dead and injured. It was “one of the most attended we’ve had in years,” said Fure-Slocum.  In addition, Carleton will host a forum in response to the bombing on Wednesday, April 24, in the Alumni Guest House Meeting Room.

She added that attendees were particularly thankful that the Carleton emerged unscathed from the tragedy.  Though a number of members of the Carleton community, including a faculty member, were present at the marathon, none were injured.

According to Fure-Slocum, student reactions ranged from “anxiety of feeling that it could have been me” to “guilt and fear at their own numbness to the violence.”

Thomas Bertschinger ’16 of Medford, MA – the hometown of bombing victim Krystie Campbell – confirmed her observations.

“To be completely honest, these sort of events don’t really surprise me anymore,” he remarked.

Bertschinger also expressed concern at the changes that the attack has wrought in his hometown.

“I read about some guy who left his car idling outside the hospital, so they evacuated the hospital.  It’s put everyone in Boston one edge,” he said.
He said that infringements on civil liberties in the aftermath of the attacks were “definitely a concern” but noted that it was “an understandable” reaction.

“It scared and saddened me,” said Kaitlyn Gerber ’14, who lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut.  “It was one of those situations where I just didn’t know how to react—it was awful, especially in the shadow of Sandy Hook in December. I just hope that the people of Boston can move beyond the scope of the tragedy.”

“I’ve been impressed with the amount of pride it’s brought from the city,” said Edelstein. “Boston is often portrayed as a cold, mean town, but the selflessness that first responders and civilians alike displayed in reacting to the bombings showcased a different side of a great city on what is supposed to be a great day. “

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