"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that" light projection on BAM building in Fort Greene, courtesy of The Illuminator

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that” light projection on BAM building in Fort Greene, courtesy of The Illuminator

As the bitter news of Monday’s explosions during the Boston Marathon descended upon the world, I grew increasingly sad and wistful.  Having grown up in a suburb right outside of Boston, this attack felt personal.  For as long as I can remember, my family and I would gather each year with friends on Heartbreak Hill to cheer on marathon runners.  To show our support, we would hand out orange slices and cups of water to the athletes as they whizzed past us. Any time a runner swiped a wedge of citrus from my outstretched hand, I would instantly cheer and jump up and down.  It made me feel like I was part of the race, passing along individual torches that were zested with patriotism.

Marathon Day is quite possibly Boston’s favorite event. It is a joyful celebration.  The race is scheduled on Patriots’ Day — a Massachusetts state holiday which marks the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord — which means schools are closed for the day, which means a three day weekend for students in Beantown 🙂  To sweeten the deal, Fenway usually hosts the home opener for the Red Sox on Patriots’ Day, however, with a newly extended baseball season, sometimes Opening Day is not always the same day as the Boston Marathon.

For the past forty-eight hours, I have been watching a spate of news reports and reading multiple human-interest stories surrounding the tainted marathon. So far, the bombings have killed three people (one of which was an eight-year-old boy named Martin Richard), injured more than one hundred and thirty-two citizens, amputated ten limbs, cancelled one race, and broken countless hearts. In hopes of anesthetizing some of this pain, there has been an amazing outflow of support and love both locally and globally.  My brother, who now lives in Northern California,  phoned me yesterday to check in and ask how I was doing.  We began to share similar stories about friends who reached out to us from far and wide — Shanghai, Brazil, Australia and beyond — that had sent concerned emails and messages of hope.  It was humbling to acknowledge that grace in humanity still exists, as our new millennial empire continues to fall from it.

"NY [hearts] B" light projection on BAM building in Fort Greene, courtesy of The Illuminator

“NY [hearts] B” light projection on BAM building in Fort Greene, courtesy of The Illuminator

As a current resident of Fort Greene, it warmed my heart to see messages of solidarity and support for Boston projecting from the The Brooklyn Academy of Music on Monday night, like a modern day Bat Signal. Illuminated blue symbols and letters crafted by The Illuminator and Occupy Wall Street Light Brigade heralded messages of peace and social justice like “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that,” “NY [hearts] B,” and “It shouldn’t take a tragedy for us to come together.”  It seems poetic that these beacons of hope temporarily shared external wall space with Leo Villareal’s Stars installation; may they continue to shine a universal light on the urgent issues of our time.

In conclusion, I would like to address an unlikely development that has resulted from this tragedy: a temporary truce between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.  As a Red Sox fan, I try to be respectful of the fact that I am somewhat of a stranger in a strange land.  But given the century long rivalry between the two teams, seeing the “NY [hearts] B” image on BAM was almost as surreal as hearing the news about the explosions at the marathon.  I shared the image with a fellow New England born New Yorker and they suggested that “I enjoy it before the inevitable amnesia sets in.” That generated a good belly laugh from me. However, last night’s Yankees-Diamondback game downshifted my giggles into a sober state. The Yankees honored the Red Sox by playing Fenway Park’s beloved anthem “Sweet Caroline” over the public-address system after the third inning against Arizona.  I could see Yankees fans singing along, and some people in the crowd wore Red Sox hats and jerseys and were NOT being badgered.  At one point the scoreboard displayed the insignia of the Red Sox and Yankees and the words: “New York stands with Boston … Pray for Boston.” This is an act that can only be described as one of grace and class.  For the first time, I was … impressed with the Yankees.  Perhaps there is hope for peace and resolution in our tumultuous world, even if it seems far off in the distant outfield.

"United We Stand" between logos for the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox appears at the top of Yankee Stadium before a Yankees-Diamondbacks game in New York, Tuesday, April 16, 2013.

“United We Stand” between logos for the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox appears at the top of Yankee Stadium before a Yankees-Diamondbacks game in New York, Tuesday, April 16, 2013.

Love and Baseball,

HZ