Blessings for Boston: Another Case of Shock and Failed Words

BostonBy Bill Henk – Credit ESPN for inspiring this post.

On Tuesday, April 16, 2013, I listened on my car radio, as I nearly always do, to Mike and Mike in the Morning.

My daily weekday ritual includes the driving of my daughter to her school and then heading to the office.  Almost religiously after the drop-off, I turn the “dial” to AM 540.

You see, sports talk represents a welcome diversion for me from the stressors in my life, and it’s not at all unusual for me to get hopelessly swept up in the various news items and commentary.

It was the day after the bombings at the Boston Marathon.  Like almost anyone with a heart and a brain, I found myself still reeling, stunned and astonished at this horrific event.  One of the co-hosts, Mike Greenberg, explained that the show would focus entirely on this crime, one that I would characterize as senseless, heinous, and cowardly.

Frankly, as a writer, these are the best words I’ve got to describe the tragedy.  And they don’t begin to do justice to the injustices perpetrated upon the innocent people near the finish line whose lives are now altered forever.

What came to strike me as I joined the show in progress, though, was not the reporting itself, but rather how often Mike felt compelled to state that regular sports information and conversations would be suspended for the duration of the broadcast.  At some point, it started to feel like he was apologizing, which I couldn’t quite grasp.  Frankly, the topic didn’t feel like a colossal stretch to me, because the race is an annual sporting event after all.

The situation started to make sense when he began reading emails and tweets from listeners who were complaining.  Although I found them off-putting generally, I wasn’t exactly mortified, because I appreciate the escape that sports afford us.  Still, it was hard to listen to sentiments like “If I wanted to hear more about what happened in Boston, I’d have turned on CNN.”

Comments like these felt disrespectful to me in light of the seriousness of what DID happen in Boston on that fateful day.  By contrast, I deeply appreciated Mike saying, “I’m sorry, but my heart wouldn’t be in talking about sports today.  I just can’t do it.”   He went on to note that the decision was made collectively by the staff of the show before going on the air.  I thoroughly applaud it.

Now here’s the thing that brings me to today’s message.  I found myself with a blog post on an educational topic due, and I had nothing.  Oh, there’s plenty of education subjects I could write about, but like Mike Greenberg, the latest version of a Boston massacre completely dominated my thoughts.  I could not shake them.  As a father of a young daughter, I especially couldn’t reconcile the murder of the 8 year-old boy whose life was needlesssly sacrificed.

So rather than explain my motivation for this post any more, and being in no mood to apologize about the topic not being educational, here are the best words I can muster:

Our hearts go out to the people of Boston and to all of the families affected by these awful events.  Your city has always shown great character, strength, and resilience, and this episode will be no exception.  Regaining your civic balance and finding your rhythms again will require a marathon of another sort.  But you’ll get there.  All of America is pulling for you.  Please know that at Marquette University and in all of Milwaukee and Wisconsin, you are wholly in our prayers.”

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