Twelve years ago I ran the Boston Marathon, and crossed the finish line in a moment of sheer joy. It took some time to find my family, but I never thought that we would not reunite and share this moment.
The recent Boston Marathon bombing changed the tone of this time-honored event. It also made a statement: We cannot assume that we, or our loved ones, will be absolutely safe at such large public gatherings.
Terrorism is not just the acts of faceless, overseas organizations bent on destroying our country. It can be perpetrated by individuals or groups, either native-born or immigrants. The Newtown, Conn., shootings and the Boston bombings both qualify as acts of terrorism, albeit with different victim groups. Surveillance and vigilance alone – whether at a large sporting event, an airport, a school or a church – have not prevented the carnage inflicted by evil or deranged people.
But absolute safeguards for the future will not come from more extensive gun-control laws, metal-detectors, bomb-sniffing dogs or more public safety forces on the ground or in the air. Such measures may certainly deter, but cannot absolutely prevent all terrorists from accomplishing their goals.
Given the size of this country and the practical constraints on providing security at all levels and in all locations, can America truly become safer for Americans? While I would hope so, achieving this goal is neither simple nor readily at hand.
With that in mind, this most recent tragedy should prompt us to do the following: (1) give any possible support to those who have been directly affected; (2) express our love to our family and our friends, never, ever taking them for granted.