Meadville Tribune


April 17, 2013

We all mourn the loss of Martin Richard — a martyr for freedom

— We don’t know whether 8-year-old Martin Richard was killed by a domestic or foreign terrorist at the Boston Marathon. But all Americans tremble in our hearts when we think of the agony experienced by his family, which also endures serious injuries to his 6-year-old sister and his mother.

As a native of the Boston neighborhood where the Richard family resides, I walked the same Dorchester streets that Martin took to the playgrounds. I played on Little League teams in the same parks where Martin was learning the fundamentals of baseball.

On Monday, a Massachusetts state holiday commemorating the valor of those who fought in the American Revolution, I was back in that neighborhood to meet friends before heading off to Fenway Park for the annual Red Sox Patriots Day game.

On his way to meet us, the friend who scored the Fenway tickets had walked by the Richard family home on Carruth Street.

Getting together with the guys you grew up with is always a special treat. And the day was made more glorious by the fact it was also Jackie Robinson Day at the ballpark. Our moods were further uplifted when the Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in dramatic fashion — a walk-off double off the Green Monster, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

As we traipsed out of Fenway to the parking lot, we passed Boston police officers on motorcycles and cruisers. They smiled at the passersby and nodded in appreciation when people gave them a wave. There was no sense of the impending calamity just blocks away on Boylston Street.

A half-hour later, we were back in Dorchester, having lunch at a restaurant in the old neighborhood. Then the television came on. When those initial pictures of the carnage at the marathon finish line appeared, we knew instantly this was no longer a day of great joy.

It had become one of infamy.

I then recalled getting a phone call 18 years ago this week from a high-ranking police official. He advised me that a young man from western New York had just been apprehended and was about to be charged in connection with the Oklahoma City bombing.

I took the next flight to Buffalo that afternoon, rented a car and drove to Lockport, where I found people who had grown up with Timothy McVeigh, the Army veteran who would later be convicted and executed for the massacre, including toddlers, at the Oklahoma City Federal Building. At a bar, a guy told me that McVeigh’s mother had abandoned the family when he was a boy.

Monday afternoon, as I left Dorchester, I first tried to make it north to the Massachusetts Turnpike, but turned around when I ran into an impenetrable traffic bottleneck and drove back to Dorchester.

Now, in a parking lot outside a supermarket where I had bagged groceries as a teenager, there were more than 15 police cruisers with blue lights flashing. The police officers were cordoning off a yellow Penske moving truck in the lot. They were investigating it in connection with the marathon bombing.

Thirty or so minutes ticked by and the police released the truck. It was unsettling in that time to see a place so interconnected with your life suddenly caught up in a frightful drama involving terrorism, mayhem and murder.

We wondered how any human being could be so callous and malicious toward innocent civilians, that he or she or they would set out to maim and murder in this way.

I recalled what Timothy McVeigh had said before he was executed, that he saw those babies who died in Oklahoma as “collateral damage.”

Tuesday morning, after having left Boston, I learned that the young boy killed at the finish line was part of the same closely knit neighborhood as the guys who had accompanied me to Fenway one day earlier.

Boston, with the Freedom Trail and the many landmarks of the Revolution, is a place where kids grow up with an acute understanding of the determination and sacrifice that gave us the nation we have today. It’s likely no accident that during the Vietnam War, Boston’s working-class neighborhoods of Dorchester, Charlestown and South Boston ranked high in killed-in-action per capita communities.

Freedom is not an abstract concept.

Of course, we have no way of knowing whether the perpetrator of this evil deed, once apprehended, will try to justify the crime with the same warped logic used by McVeigh.

We just know that until there is such an arrest, the hand of evil will be among us.

And from this day forward, we will recall Martin Richard — a young boy who recently made a poster stating, “No more hurting people. PEACE” — as a martyr for freedom.

Mahoney is a reporter for The Daily Star of Oneonta, N.Y., which like The Meadville Tribune is owned by Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.

Text Only
  • Many veterans suffer PTSD, which needs to be dealt with

    Initially, I intended this article to be about PTSD “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” I wanted to write about the myths and misconceptions that those four words may hold. But as the days went by, the story just wouldn’t come together for me. Everything I typed seemed to miss something. There was no feeling.

    April 17, 2014

  • Journalists in combat zones ‘write with light’ while risking their lives

    I first heard the news on National Public Radio on my car radio. On April 4, the day before elections in Afghanistan, an Afghan military officer walked up to a car in a convoy and opened fire. Anja Niedringhaus, a staff photographer for The Associated Press, died instantly.

    April 16, 2014

  • There’s no war on men and boys — it’s quite the opposite

    Two weeks ago, Paul Dici submitted an column titled “It’s time to fight against the war on men and boys” (March 28). Mr. Dici would have us believe that men and boys are being “wussified” by a progressive agenda that may jeopardize our national security. Also, he makes the point that men and boys are not given the same advantages (programs) as women and girls.

    April 14, 2014

  • McCord outsourcing ‘scandal’ reminds me of Y2K fears

    With only seven weeks to go until the May primary election, the campaigns are expected to get a lot hotter and more negative.

    April 13, 2014

  • Can we trust luck when it comes to the nuclear industry?

    Let’s review the history to better understand a major concern of today.

    April 11, 2014

  • Aging — is it a disease to be cured?

    If you are already old, get ready for what comes next. If you are not old yet but on the way, it is not too early to start thinking about aging and dying, because both are part of being human.

    April 10, 2014

  • Local high school students help keep future of journalism bright

    Significant technological and economic changes have caused some to question the future of journalism, both as a viable business enterprise and as a potential career. But if the proceedings of the eighth annual Northwest Pennsylvania High School Journalism Day are any indication, journalism is alive and well, especially in Crawford County.

    April 10, 2014

  • Reps want to hang ‘English only’ sign at the Capitol

    Pennsylvania, it turns out, is one of 19 states that have failed to address the menace that is non-English. Or maybe it’s un-English? Or dis-English? There must be a word for it.

    April 8, 2014

  • The Arc: A welcoming community of support

    Let me give you some background about services that The Arc of Crawford, Warren and Forest counties provide to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. These individuals are your neighbors, loved ones and family members.

    April 7, 2014 1 Story

  • Outside the Box: Gather information and weigh your options — but always go on your guts

    Years ago, I was working in my father’s home office. I grabbed a gold Cross pen to sign a letter. Hours later, my dad wanted to know where the pen was. He was insistent. What’s the big deal, I wondered.

    April 2, 2014

Business Marquee
AP Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide