Patriot’s Day— This One’s Personal

Patriot’s Day is a holiday pretty much unique to Boston and Massachusetts. You have the Boston Marathon, and always a Red Sox home game, usually early in the day. Over a half million people in the greater Boston area come out to watch the race which ends on Boylston St. near the Prudential Center. Unlike many marathons, the Boston marathon is not an out and back race or a circular race, it is a race from the little towns just outside Boston into the heart of town. And it is a difficult race. For me, the Patriot’s Day movie is personal, because exactly 20 years before the bombing of the race on April 15 2013, I was running that race, and finishing exactly where all the mayhem took place, courtesy of the Tsarnaev brothers. You find out a lot about the courage and resilience of a city when something like this happens, and as the movie makes clear—– these boys messed with the wrong city, because Boston is truly Boston strong as Big Papi and others stressed.

First of all, this movie has an excellent cast— Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, J.K. Simmons, Michelle Monaghan and more. It is well crafted, and done respectfully, not in an exploitation kind of way. The human dimension of the whole story is emphasized and focus is on Tommy Saunders a Boston cop who probably is a composite, and at least one of the real cops he is modeled on it probably Billy Flynn. The movie is 2 hours and 10 minutes, but the drama builds steadily and there are points where you are on the edge of your seat. It is always good to see the various streets and neighborhoods of my favorite large city. More than anything, this movie is a tribute to law enforcement, and especially to the brave policemen and special agents who tracked down the killers. One of the more amazing dimensions of the film is the technological side of the man hunt. In the end, their get away vehicle was tracked down when its owner remembered his GPS code number and gave it to the police. When I ran the marathon, no such possibilities existed.

Besides the positive stories and profiles in courage (and also of villainy) there is something of a major message in the film— love conquers hate. At a crucial juncture in the film Tommy Saunders says that when the bombs went off, love responded immediately. People ran to the injured and dying, and did all they could to help them. Hatred takes time and planning to blow up people. But love can be instantaneous and help people get beyond life’s disasters. On Patriot’s Day 2013 you saw modern day patriot’s in action.

The last time I was in Boston, I went to the finish line on Boylston St. I said a prayer for the victims and their families It could have been me. If you see a policeman or woman in the next few days, thank them for their service. They put their lives on the line for us all whether we realize it or not, and increasingly we need them in an ever more violent culture and world.

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