Boston Marathon Blog

Tragedy, Tribute, and Celebration

We mourn the loss of Lt. Ed Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy – neighbors, members of our community who sacrificed their lives to help protect ours. They are examples of selfless heroism, an echo to what we witnessed from so many on Marathon Monday last year.

I stopped by Ladder 15 and Engine 33 to reflect, pay my respect, say a quiet prayer, and look at the makeshift memorial early in the morning on the 27th. Our City has a talent for makeshift memorials. Last year after the Bombings, memorials spontaneously formed at either end of the Boylston Street barricades. When the barricades came down, the memorials were transplanted to Copley Square where they became one and continued to grow in a remarkable and heartbreaking show of mourning and affection. Makeshift memorials popped up at the bombing sites as well, which stealthy and sensitive volunteers relocated to Copley Square in the darkness of night.

The memorial in front of the firehouse was another testament to the compassion of our community. I took a picture of it so I can be forever reminded of the depth and scope our humanity – of how much we care for each other.

Memorials are terrible and wonderful things. They mark a period or event of grief and tragedy, but are a constant reminder of the hope we have in our hearts that humankind is greater than any disaster.

I cannot wait for Marathon Monday. I ache for it in my bones, muscles, and heart. Boylston Street has seen so much tragedy this past year. I want, hope, and need this year’s Marathon to be something to celebrate. I am counting on the exhilaration of the crowd that will line the streets from Hopkinton to Boston.

I grieve for Michael Kennedy, who was training for the Marathon. Something about his spirit resonates with me. Michael may have passed from this life, but he will most certainly be running on Marathon Monday. He will toe the start line with 36,000 runners who will carry his memory and his spirit in their hearts from Hopkinton to the finish line on Boylston Street. I will be running for many reasons, and Michael Kennedy will certainly be one of them.

I will stop in Wellesley and kiss a college girl, because that’s something we should all do. I will high five as many little kids’ hands as I’m able, because Marathon Monday belongs to them as much as it does the runners. I will stop at Boston College and have some beer, because Marathons don’t happen every day – and this Marathon will happen only once.

I will turn right on Hereford and see the Ladder 15 and Engine 33 firehouse on my right, guarding the final turn, a red brick sentinel that guides the runners and directs them to the finish line like an old friend. I will pause in front of the firehouse and salute Lt. Walsh and Firefighter Kennedy. And then I will turn left on Boylston Street to what I hope is thunderous cheering, unlike anything the world has experienced before. I will run that final stretch surrounded by a City that came back louder, stronger, and more resilient when faced with terror.

I will pause in front of Forum and Marathon Sports to honor the memory of the lives that were lost last year, and to pay tribute to the strength of the survivors.

I will cross the finish line.

Dan Soleau is Brand Development Manager at Marathon Sports. He’ll provide weekly training tips for those preparing for the Boston Marathon. Dan has completed 6 marathons and an Ironman. He is a mentor for the One Fund’s Boston Marathon team, coach for the Spaulding Rehabilitation Boston Marathon team, and will be running the 2014 Boston Marathon. Follow him on Twitter at @dansoleau or follow Marathon Sports at @marathon_sports

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