For all Americans, there are many dates that resonate, sadly, all too well. For me, the first was the Challenger explosion. I remember exactly where I was at the moment the shuttle erupted in the sky. I can still picture all of my classmates crowded in the tiny gymnasium of my small elementary school, watching on TV.
Or learning about the Columbine tragedy from the couch of my first apartment. Who can forget where you were when the first plane struck the World Trade Center, or when an elementary school in Connecticut transformed into a killing field? Sadly, we can add one more event to the list. On Monday, April 15 we all stopped in horror as bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
We witnessed people from all over the country – but especially Bostonians themselves – come together in support of a city. On Facebook, people replaced profile pictures with images of shoelaces twisted into ribbons, a sign of support for the runners, spectators and everyday citizens affected by the terror. One of the most poignant acts of solidarity in my mind was the playing/singing of “Sweet Caroline,” the Boston Red Sox’ unofficial anthem, in stadiums and ballparks across the nation, including at the home of Boston’s nemesis, the New York Yankees. Elsewhere, the Milwaukee Brewers showed a video tribute to the city of Boston at a recent home game that included the theme-song from Boston-based “Cheers.” And nothing gave me chills more than at the entire crowd singing the "Star Spangled Banner" at the Boston Bruins first home game after the bombing.
So how does a magazine capture all that emotion? Can it even be done? The answer is a resounding yes, as Boston Magazine proved. The magazine’s current cover features hundreds of shoes worn by runners in the April 15 marathon set up to form a heart, with the words “We Will Finish The Race” in the negative space. It is a simple but poignant image. And it is all the more amazing given the deadline staff faced.
Staff members at the magazine were in the midst of wrapping up their May issue when they got news of the explosion. They immediately knew they had to do something that would re-write their magazine, literally. I can tell you from my experience to have to do what they did, change the direction of the magazine, is an incredible undertaking. Scrapping much of their content in honor of all those who were there was bold and tremendous. It required everyone on staff to step up and contribute in a way they may not have normally. Editor John Wolfson explains how the idea came about and what it took to put hundreds of runners’ shoes on the cover and in the magazine in the span of only days. But it was worth it. These efforts truly honor and tell what Boston and America is all about, coming together in the midst of such tragedy.
For me, when I think of the marathon bombings years from now, I’ll recall this cover.