[This blog entry first appeared in April 2013, following the Boston Marathon attacks. An incredible 35,000+ runners are expected to participate in today's race.]
Last June, I decided to attend my college reunion for the first time. It had been quite awhile since I had seen many of my friends from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Many of the scheduled events were family-oriented, so I was delighted that my wife and our daughters drove up to Cambridge with me after school on a Friday afternoon to spend the next 1 1/2 days renewing friendships, as well as seeing my brother and sister-in-law. One of the events was a brunch on the Sunday of the reunion weekend. It was held at the Stata Center, a building with an unusual design that opened about a decade ago. It was a beautiful June day and our girls had a wonderful time playing with one of the interlocking design toys.
Who would have imagined that about ten months later, this same location would be the center of the world's attention? In the same area where my family walked, a young police officer who loved his job and the people he protected gave his life. From all accounts, the respect that the MIT community had for Officer Sean Collier was something special, something that will be lost forever. Perhaps his memory will be a catalyst for all of the good things that a community should be, not just in Cambridge, but around the globe.
The horrific events of last week hit home on so many levels. My brother has run in the Boston and New York City marathons in the past, and I have been a spectator in both cities. One of the victims was from his hometown. The little boy was the same age as one of my daughters. The graduate student was from China, where my daughters were born. My family previously signed up for several 5k runs and walks that are coming up soon. Besides supporting the various events, we will now also be thinking of all the families and friends impacted by the events in and around Boston, including those for whom recovery will be a very long-term process.
MIT always has been a leader in education and in trying to make the world a better place. I have never been more proud to be part of this community, which, regardless of where we live, feels closer today than ever. This was brought home yesterday with the memorial service for Officer Collier from the athletic fields at MIT. As an undergraduate, I participated in a variety of intramural sports at this very location. Yesterday, a tremendously emotional memorial ceremony was held for Officer Collier. The bagpipes, the color guards, the speeches of Vice President Biden and MIT President Reif, and the music of James Taylor with orchestral and choral groups from MIT all contributed to a very moving ceremony. The words of family and colleagues of Officer Collier brought it to an even more individual level of understanding the impact of senseless tragedies. The live streaming of the event by MIT enabled the global MIT community to feel closer to those in Cambridge.
For Officer Collier, Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, and Lu Lingzi, may you all rest in peace, and may your families and friends find comfort in these difficult days and in the years ahead.