Boston Marathon

Cowetans connected to Monday's bombings

by W. Winston Skinner

Cowetans who are from the Boston area – and people from the local area who now live in Boston or visit there – expressed shock and sadness over the bombings there Monday.

Two explosions from homemade bombs in pressure cookers exploded during the Boston Marathon on Monday. Three people were killed and dozens were injured. Several people lost limbs.

Paul Conroy, artistic director for Newnan Theatre Company, is from the Boston area. His mother is a lifelong resident, and his parents still live in the Boston suburb of Quincy.

Conroy said he talked with his parents, who have a landline phone, on Monday. Many people could not contact friends and family because of cell phone service interruptions.

Susan Shaner, who has lived in Coweta County since 1974, grew up in Charleston, the oldest part of Boston, “where the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought.” She had been in touch with her mother, who still lives in Boston, and termed Monday’s events “horrendous.”

Shaner said she was particularly struck by “all the people who were helping” as she watched television coverage on Monday. She said she saw a repeat of the kind of caring and professionalism that marked the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City.

Kandy Barnett Roy’s career took her from her hometown of Newnan to Boston where she now lives and works. She said a friend and work colleague is at Women’s Hospital in Boston “in critical condition” from a bombing injury. “I am sickened by this,” Roy said.

Both Conroy and Shaner reflected on the significance of the marathon as a Boston tradition.

“I know people who every year run in the marathon or go to the marathon,” Conroy said.

“So many people participate or watch,” Shaner said. “It makes me so sad that something that is as special as the Boston Marathon could be marred like this.”

Conroy noted the race is on a state holiday, Patriots Day, which marks the beginning of spring break in the Boston area. “Everybody just kind of goes and hangs out” at the marathon, he said. “Everybody’s off work, out of school.”

Conroy added, “Even if you don’t go to the marathon, you watch it on TV. It’s something we really take a lot of pride in.”

Shaner said people were trying to find family members using Facebook on Monday evening. Shaner had a friend whose sister and daughters had been running in the marathon.

“They were having trouble locating each other” at one point Monday, she said.

Conroy said he does not yet know if anyone he knows was injured Monday. “It’s so early that it’s hard to tell,” he said.

Conroy was in college on Long Island during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and Shaner has played a big role in memorial remembrances of the 9-11 losses.

Conroy said the New York bombings did not affect him in the same way as Monday’s bombings. “It’s your hometown. I know exactly where this is. I’ve been on that street 100 times,” he said.

Conroy said the bombings took place in an upscale area where the marathon ends – a place with shops and restaurants. The site is a couple of blocks from the Hancock Tower, Boston’s tallest building, and a few more blocks from historic sites – such as the Old State House and Faneuil Hall – associated with the American Revolution.

The bombed area is also “a few blocks from the theater district,” Conroy said.

Roy reflected on the significance of the attack taking place in Boston. “Boston is a true symbol of our American freedoms, our history, and country,” she said. “To be attacked again – in such a cowardly way – jeopardizes all of that and what we have fought for in this country.”

Shaner said reactions included both sadness and fear in Bostonians she knows. “I think they’re angry, too. They’re angry that someone would do this,” she said.

Newnan photographer Marie Emory Seals has been to Boston several times – taking her mother there for treatments at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She said she has wanted to return at a time she could photograph the many sites in the area.

“It’s a beautiful place. I loved the parks – the buildings, the people where I visited around there,” Seals said. “It’s so sad that someone is so heartless. Bless all the people there.”

“I grew up in the ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ days. I wish we could go back there. We’ve come way too far in the opposite direction,” Shaner reflected.

“This just happened to happen in Boston,” Conroy observed. “It could be any day – any place.”



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