At makeshift Boston Marathon memorial, grit and grief
BOSTON -- Monday's bombings at the 117th Boston Marathon weren't just an attack on Boston, they were a slap at all people, said Ed Starbuck of Nantucket, Mass.
He stepped forward between onlookers Tuesday afternoon at the intersection of Boylston and Arlington streets to hang a string of American flags on a police barrier at a makeshift memorial.
"I'm a proud American and I came to volunteer at the memorial because I'm emotional about it and felt it's better to do something," Starbuck said.
Starbuck took charge, asking for volunteers to move the memorial when police announced plans to reopen that block of Boylston Street in midafternoon.
They picked up the flowers, souvenir Boston T-shirts, a Red Sox hat, and balloon depicting the children's movie "Cars." The growing crowd of observers waited while everything was set in front of a vacant store front on Boylston Street.
Visitors stopping near the memorial paid their respects and said they refuse to let domestic or foreign terrorism make them cower.
John Bursell, of Juneau, Alaska, said he and his wife, Jamie, were coming to Boston for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but now plan to come back next year -- to prove they can not be intimidated.
"I wouldn't want this to change what I do," Bursell said. "You can't let folks who do these kinds of things affect what you do."
Bursell finished the race in 2:59 and was blocks away at his hotel room at the Taj Boston when the explosions went off. He didn't know about them until a friend from Texas called to check on him.
The Bursells visited the memorial a couple times during the day to watch it grow.
"It just touches me to know people put something down to show they care," said Jamie Bursell, who plans to run next year after sitting this one out.
Mike Noori, of Alfreda, Ga., dropped a daffodil at the memorial, "just to pay respects to all the folks and pay respects to the town."
He had been in Boston to watch his wife Sina run the marathon with her friend Amy Bartholomew, of Atlanta, as celebration of beating breast cancer.
Race sponsor John Hancock offered Sina Noori an invitation after hearing how hard she trained following a double mastectomy, just to barely fall short in her qualifying race in Erie, Pa., this past fall while still undergoing treatments.
Mike Noori was in the John Hancock VIP bleachers when the first bomb went off.
About the time of the explosion he had smelled oil and believed it was an electric mishap, so he tried to calm others around him as they charged off the bleachers.
Others were able to pay their respects at the memorial on Tuesday because of close calls the day before.
Hassan Afshar, of Toronto, finished the marathon at 4:09:18 and was about a block away when the first explosion hit. He thought it was a cannon celebrating the race.
Rebecca Koskinen, of Boston, gave birth to her daughter Elisabeth on Marathon Monday in 2012, so she thought it was important to take her to this year's marathon. They had been standing at the spot of the first explosion but left 15 minutes beforehand so Elisabeth could go home for a nap.
Koskinen came to the memorial Tuesday to pay her respects.
"I think it's really important," Koskinen said of the memorial. "It gives people a way to remember."
Bob Piskule, of Attleboro, Mass., quietly slipped up to the police barrier to leave a bouquet of white carnations. He was in his office Monday on the 22nd floor of the Prudential Center when he heard the first bang and then felt the reverberations.
"It was extremely loud. We heard the second one and were like, it couldn't be good," he said. "This is a terrible and unfortunate situation."
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