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Opinion: One year later – We are still Boston Strong

By Cassandra Russo

Tuesday, April 15, marks the 5rst anniversary of last year’s Boston Marathon bombings, resulting in three fatalities and nearly 300 injuries after two bombs detonated near the finish line on Boylston Street.

Over 23,000 people ran in the Boston Athletic Association-sponsored race, including six FSU students and alumni. No one from FSU was injured.

Approximately 5,633 people completed at least half of the 26.2-mile race, but were unable to cross the finish line due to the bombings.

Patrick Morrissey, a 2013 FSU alumnus, was 0.2 miles shy of the 5nish line when the second of two bombs detonated.

“It all ended in a whirlwind of chaos,” Morrissey said. “I see the 5nish line and hear the bomb go off. An ambulance came through and people were running in opposite directions. ... My first thought was: ‘Is my family OK? Are my friends OK? Is my girlfriend OK?’ It took me two hours to find anyone.

“It was really surreal. It didn’t feel like it was real.”

Four days after the bombings, members of law enforcement identified the bombing suspects as 19-year-old UMass-Dartmouth student Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Tamerlan was killed during an altercation with police early on April 19. His brother Dzhokhar was captured that night after an 18-hour manhunt in Watertown, which put into effect a shelter-in-place for all surrounding residents. He was found hiding bloody and injured in a boat in the backyard of a Watertown residence.

On April 22, 2013, Tsarnaev was charged by the U.S. government with one count of using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death. He was also charged with one count of malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death, according to

After investigation, it was determined the brothers carried the pressure-cooker bombs in backpacks.

At this year’s Marathon, to be held on April 21, no bags will be allowed at or near both the starting point in Hopkinton and 5nish line in Boston. Bags are also not allowed along the Marathon route, according the Boston Athletic Association website.

Morrissey said he believes it will be “twice as crazy this year. I’m sure there will be double the amount of fans and people running.”

There are 36,000 people registered to run in this year’s marathon. For the first time, unregistered runners, called “bandits,” are prohibited from participating in the marathon.

Last year was Morrissey’s 5rst time running in the Boston Marathon. He raised over $7,000 for cystic fibrosis in honor of his cousin Samantha, who passed away from the disease.

For two reasons, he will be running again this year.

First, he said, “The bombers did what they did to strike fear in the people and make people not want to ... gather and enjoy life and do things that are fun, exciting and challenging. Running again is my protest against people like them to show that I don’t care what you’re trying to do to me – I’m going to do it anyways.”

The second is the “personal aspect. I need to 5nish the race in order to feel that I’ve actually

accomplished it.

“When it really gets difficult – when I’m on that 10th mile and my legs are just burning – that’s when I think about finishing this year and wanting it so bad. I think about Samantha, and the debt I owe to her to finish,” Morrissey said.

Since the Marathon last year, his life has been 5lled with a “mix of emotions.”

Directly after the Marathon, he said he knew he wanted to run again. “But, there was this lingering feeling that these people [the bombers] were trying to hurt people like me and my friends and family that really got to me.”

Morrissey said he decided to run in last year’s marathon as a mark of personal achievement. Now, because of all the support he has received since last year, he said he is running because he feels he is part of something larger than a personal goal.

President Barack Obama, in a speech on the night of the bombings, recognized that the Marathon is a day that “celebrates the free and 5ercely independent spirit ... of our nation” that Boston has always reflected.

He said, “Boston is a tough and resilient town. So are its people. ... Bostonians will pull together, take care of each other, and move forward as one proud city. And as they do, the American people will be with them every single step of the way.”

At the first home game at Fenway Park following the bombings, Red Sox Designated Hitter David Ortiz addressed the crowd, saying, “This is our fucking city. Nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong.”

Morrissey said, “Before, it was just a race. Now, it feels like I am part of a community and part of a city that really cares about each other.”

Morrissey said he is excited to see how Boston comes together as a community. “We have to show the bombers that we are stronger than them – that the fear they tried to instill in us is really not going to work.”

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