I’m Safe: A College Student’s Perspective On Boston Bombings

STORY BY Grace Jung

Published: May 1, 2013

“Are you safe?”

Those words were sent to me through text messages and Facebook as I watched the horror unfold at my university’s recreation center on Monday, April 15th. A large crowd had been huddled over the television, and initially, I thought they were watching a clutch moment of a sports game. But their expressions told a different story, and one look at the screen was all that I needed to know why: the local news channel was reporting that two explosions at the Boston Marathon finish line had killed at least two people and had left more than 20 people injured.

As someone who grew up in New York after 9/11, it was almost surreal that another tragedy had occurred fifteen minutes away from where I had lived. After nearly eight months at Northeastern University, I had finally been able to call Boston my home and second city. Someone had attacked the very streets I had walked through so many times and had instantly made it a place of fear and tragedy. But what shook me the most was that this time, I had people I knew at the site of the explosions and did not know about their whereabouts or safety.

It was absolute chaos in my dorm building. The lobby was packed with fellow residents nervously following the news on television while our RAs took emergency roll call and attempted to contact those who had not been in the building. There were still a few names that had not been checked off, and panic was threatening to suffocate each and every one of us as calls went straight to voicemail. That was the kind of power these bombers had over us: trapped physically within our building and mentally in terror and uncertainty. Everyone was eventually accounted for, and friends who had been at or near the site told us their stories. When I asked what had been the most terrifying part of it, one of them replied, “Having to run and not knowing why.”

As everyone knows, the manhunt for the suspected bombers came to a dramatic close a few days later on Friday night, and a riot formed on the next street over on Hemenway (which made the news on CNN). A crowd consisting mostly of college students bellowed the national anthem and followed it with “USA!” chants. Others climbed trees and waved the American flag high up in the air in celebration. Some called it inappropriate, but for many, it was merely a sigh of relief. The manhunt for the escaped suspect all throughout Friday, that had put the entire city of Boston on lockdown, had left mass tension in the air. We were not allowed outdoors, and meals had been delivered straight to our dorms. The actions of two individuals had literally immobilized an entire city.

The celebration was a way for Boston to let the world know that it would no longer stay trapped in fear. Just like the Marathon Runners who kept on going for two more miles to donate blood after crossing the finish line, we were not going to let terrorists stop us from moving on to make the world a better place. As for me, I have never been more grateful to be where I am today and to still have the people that I do in my life. I am not sure what had compelled them to leave or stray from the site of the explosions, but I am thankful that they were able to come out of it to say those two words:

“I’m safe.”

Other Stories by Grace Jung
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