An all-to-familiar scene of terror
When we learned about the permanent cancelation of the Jaffrey Festival of Fireworks on Monday morning we were disappointed, but also hopeful that between now and August there would be an answer to the challenge and cost of securing the festival grounds. But shortly before 3 p.m., we learned of the explosions at the finish line of Boston Marathon that injured many and killed at least two people Monday.
With that sobering news coming out of Boston, the threat of violence festival of fireworks organizers received last summer became all too real. Then at 5:15 p.m., we learned the White House was on lock down. The explosion at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston was at first thought to be related, but police later said it was a fire issue.
It was easier to believe last summer that the bomb threat received by Jaffrey town officials and festival organizers was just a threat, and an unfortunate inconvenience that would deny organizers of vital funds raised through the event. Since then, mass violence has crept ever closer to home. The nation has been focused on safety in our schools and the gun debate since the mid-December shooting at Sandyhook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. While significant legislation can make our society safer, Monday’s events were a stark reminder that there are always new, seemingly unexpected ways to inflict damage on our residents and to our psyche.
That someone would want to hurt people during events and traditions we hold dear — the Boston Marathon has gone on since 1897 and this would have been the 23rd Jaffrey Festival of Fireworks if not for its cancellation — is difficult to fathom, but a growing part of our reality.
And it’s another reminder of what our first responders are faced with when planning large events. Monday’s scene gave us a sense of what local emergency officials were considering when they were faced with a bomb scare ahead of last year’s fireworks show. If anyone still doubts they did the right thing — as difficult as it was — Monday’s news provides some unwanted validation.
Now our corner of the country is left, once again, to pick up the pieces and to make sense of the fallout. The frantic pace of the news reports did little to calm nerves of those in our area, who had friends, family members and colleagues who had been enjoying a sunny Patriots Day along the race route in Boston. Just as readers surely did, we called all the people we knew, or thought we knew, were in Boston on Monday. Many of them could not be reached as phone lines in the greater Boston area were down. Some folks, though, responded, saying they were safe.
But feelings of safety are fleeting these days. On Monday, we were left with photos of the explosion site that show emergency workers rushing to treat downed runners and ambulances carrying them to area hospitals. Authorities had not identified the persons responsible by press time Monday and reports varied widely about the number of people injured, however, two people were reported dead. We’re now almost 12 years removed from 9/11. But we have to ask, are we any safer now?