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US Opinion: The Bombs at the Marathon --- What Patriots' Day Means to a Bostonian

Editor's Note: James Miller, EA's Senior Writer, is a long-time resident of the Boston area.

The headlines, the lead paragraphs are stark. The videos and photographs are horrific.

But unless you are getting your news from a Bostonian, you may not realize the full significance of a terror attack on Patriots' Day in the city.

Patriots' Day, the third Monday of every April, commemorates the events of 19 April 1775, when Americans fought the first two battles of their Revolutionary War against the British Empire. At those battles in Lexington and Concord, a small group of colonists stood up to one of the globe's most powerful  militaries after the "shot heard round the world" shattered the silence that spring morning. For me, this was the violent birth of modern democracy and one of the first blows to European colonialism.

That chapter of American and world history, remembered on Patriots' Day and in the events that commemorate it, are known to almost all Americans.

For those living in Massachusetts, they have a deeper meaning. 

It is a State holiday. Many businesses are closed, public schools begin spring vacations, and all non-essential public workers have the day off. The battles of the revolution are recreated. The Boston Red Sox, a baseball team at the heart of Massacusetts culture, play a home game at Fenway Park --- the oldest ballpark in America --- which begins in the morning at the same time as the Boston Marathon.

It is the Marathon that eventually takes over the city, and a large part of the state. Half a million spectators cheer on more than 25,000 participants in their 26.2 mile journey through eight towns and cities. The race is filled with stories of everyday heroism --- cancer survivors, charity fundraisers, double-amputees, professional athletes, the old, the young.

For us, for Bostonians, the Marathon channels the spirit of that democracy born on a battlefield just a few miles from here.

That is why it was not just the city of Boston that came under attack on Monday, with a violent and bloody assault on those who had gathered here to celebrate.

The holiday itself has been forever scarred.

Patriots' Day, that poignant reminder of the heroism of our ancestors, and of the heroism of those among us today, will simply never be the same again.

But there is nothing unique, nothing special about terrorism. There is nothing extraordinary about horrific violence, nothing remarkable about the deaths of innocents. Attacks on symbols and special events --- most importantly, attacks on innocent people --- perpetrated by those who hide behind ideologies, who "claim responsibility" only afterwards from a safe distance, are as quotidian as they are shocking, as old as they are universal.

The city of Boston, its people, are just the latest victims.

So, for all the significance of this attack on Patriots Day, the assault will not overtake its deeper meaning, will not erase or rewrite the history set in motion that morning over two centuries ago.  In Boston, people will pull together, take care of the victims, find the perpetrators, and hold them accountable.

Boston is a city of fierce friends, defiant enemies, and long memories. It will recover, even as it does not forget the pain caused by the actions of a few faceless individuals. In the spirit of democracy, the city will not allow the will of those violent few to vanquish the desire of the many for peace and for harmony.

During our upcoming holidays --- the 4th of July, New Year's Eve on the Charles River --- and the next Patriots' Day, and all the Patriots Days to come --- Boston will be back, saddened, angered, but ultimately undeterred by this tragedy.

In the spirit of 1775,  we will hope to inspire the world, with yesterday's horrific violence annulled and then replaced by hope.

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