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Wed Apr 17, 2013, 10:20 AM

 

Climbing Heartbreak Hill

Last edited Wed Apr 17, 2013, 12:04 PM - Edit history (1)



Mourners during a candlelight vigil on the Boston Common
for those killed and injured on Monday in the explosions at
the Boston Marathon, in Boston, April 16, 2013.
(Photo: Eric Thayer / The New York Times)


Climbing Heartbreak Hill
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Wednesday 17 April 2013

The diameter of the bomb was thirty centimeters
and the diameter of its effective range about seven meters,
with four dead and eleven wounded.
And around these, in a larger circle
of pain and time, two hospitals are scattered
and one graveyard. But the young woman
who was buried in the city she came from,
at a distance of more than a hundred kilometers,
enlarges the circle considerably,
and the solitary man mourning her death
at the distant shores of a country far across the sea
includes the entire world in the circle.
And I won't even mention the crying of orphans
that reaches up to the throne of God and
beyond, making a circle with no end and no God.

- Yehuda Amichai, "The Diameter of the Bomb"


When you're in a car, or taking a leisurely stroll, it hardly seems menacing at all. Less than half a mile long and rising only 88 feet, it does not even merit mention from a geological point of view. Hell, 364 days of the year, it's barely there, just a long lump on Commonwealth Avenue in the city of Newton, Massachusetts...but on one special day, a day like no other around here, that half-mile becomes an eater of souls, elongated agony, a place of definitions.

Beginning at the 20th mile of the Boston Marathon, Heartbreak Hill is where the glycogen in your muscles finally runs out, and there is you and the wall and the pain. If you reach the summit - if - you are greeted by the roaring cheers of Boston College students and thousands of other spectators. In the distance shines the top of the Prudential Tower, visible for the first time all day, and the sight of it carries the hard-won knowledge that you're almost at the end.

That's where I grew up, right at the top of Heartbreak Hill, and every Patriot's Day was a celebration of the newly arrived springtime, the community cheering on the runners, and of course, the people running the race. My favorite part every year is when Team Hoyt crests the Hill to the adulation of all. Rick Hoyt was born with cerebral palsy. In 1977, his father Dick pushed young Rick in a wheelchair while competing in a race, and Rick told him, "Dad, when I'm running, it feels like I'm not handicapped." Well, that was that; at 37 years of age, Dick Hoyt began race training by pushing a bag of cement in a wheelchair, and Team Hoyt was born. The father and son have run in 30 Boston Marathons and over a thousand endurance events. Just before this year's marathon, a beautiful bronze statue of the pair was unveiled in Boston.

The statue is wonderful, but for me, the emotions that come year after year watching Rick and Dick Hoyt defeat Heartbreak Hill on their way to Copley Square are something that can neither be quantified nor explained. It is the whole thing at once, all of it, and you are always larger in spirit for having seen it. Everyone weeps, and smiles, and cheers them as they pass, and it is only one small accent in the symphony of joy that is and has been Boston's best day for the last 117 years.

Rick and Dick Hoyt did not finish the marathon on Monday. They were stopped by race officials a mile from the finish line, along with thousands of other runners, when a pair of bombs left by a coward kicked the city in the heart. Somewhere in the bedlam, Dick Hoyt lost his wheelchair. A mile away, people had lost their legs and their lives as Boylston Street became a bloodbath filled with screams and sirens. In the blink of an eye, Boston became a member of a terrible fellowship that includes Belfast, Baghdad, London, Madrid, Tokyo, Oklahoma City, New York and many other places large and small. The price of admission: the cold, hard, awful, furious, terrified, empty feeling that comes when it has happened to you.

(snip)

I do not know who did it, or why, but I do know this. One year from now, when the new spring sunlight shines down upon Boston's best day, we will be in the streets to cheer the runners and remember the lost. We will never forget, but we will not cower or crouch. We will be there with family and friends to celebrate the place and the time and the event that is uniquely and completely ours. It will not be taken from us by anyone, ever. This is Boston. If you want to find us this time next year, we will all be with Rick and Dick Hoyt, climbing Heartbreak Hill together.

The rest: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/15785-climbing-heartbreak-hill

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 12 replies Author Time Post
Reply Climbing Heartbreak Hill (Original post)
WilliamPitt Apr 2013 OP
Little Star Apr 2013 #1
ljm2002 Apr 2013 #2
GCP Apr 2013 #3
Frustratedlady Apr 2013 #4
N_E_1 for Tennis Apr 2013 #5
sinkingfeeling Apr 2013 #6
WilliamPitt Apr 2013 #7
sinkingfeeling Apr 2013 #8
NotThisTime Apr 2013 #9
nolabear Apr 2013 #10
greatlaurel Apr 2013 #11
WilliamPitt Apr 2013 #12

Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 17, 2013, 10:23 AM

1. k&r

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 17, 2013, 10:26 AM

2. Beautiful piece, Will... n/t

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 17, 2013, 10:36 AM

3. Nicely done n/t

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 17, 2013, 10:38 AM

4. Wonderful piece...(sitting here with tears)...

So many stories, so many lives changed in so many ways.

We won't forget.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 17, 2013, 10:40 AM

5. Thank You, Will

For yet another outstanding piece of writing.

Thank you for showing we will not cower under the blanket of fear but will choose to dress in the cloak of human goodness, empathy, bravery and selflessness.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 17, 2013, 10:43 AM

6. Will,second paragraph from the last. What word did you mean?

"There will be a reckoning for those who thought it meet to shatter a crowd of families with bombs packed with nails and ball bearings, and may God help them, because no one else will."

"For those who thought it meet....."

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Response to sinkingfeeling (Reply #6)

Wed Apr 17, 2013, 10:47 AM

7. Old use of the word

 

2 Peter 1:13

"Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;"

- King James Bible "Authorized Version", Pure Cambridge Edition

Shakespeare used it that way as well.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Reply #7)

Wed Apr 17, 2013, 10:50 AM

8. Meaning 'proper'. Thanks.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 17, 2013, 11:17 AM

9. New to the scene and good friends with the Hoyts, the K girls, crossing the finish line just as the

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 17, 2013, 11:22 AM

10. Shared. I'm proud to know you.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 17, 2013, 11:34 AM

11. Thank you.

Very moving. I am going outside now to plant some trees in honor of these people. The trees are blight resistant American chestnuts. We will come back stronger. Thank you, Boston, for leading the way.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 17, 2013, 05:22 PM

12. Kick

 

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