'Boston Strong' Speakers Prompt Needed Reflection
The Panel Gave Varied Takes On Boston's Motto, Urging Students To Think Critically About Its Meaning
Published: Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 23:10
The sophomore class of the Presidential Scholars Program hosted an event on Tuesday night that sought to engage the “Boston Strong” motto in a critical fashion. They invited a panel of five members of the Boston community to speak about their connection to the Marathon, what the motto means to them, and how the motto should be understood moving forward. Among the panelists were John Tlumacki, the Boston Globe photographer who took many of the widely publicized images at the finish line, Dave Fortier, a first-time marathoner injured at the blast, and Kathe McKenna, the co-founder of Haley House, a homeless shelter and employment program in the South End.
The questions posed to the panelists and their varied responses successfully brought to light the conflicting sentiments that surround the “Boston Strong” motto and the other responses to the Marathon tragedies, forcing all those in attendance to evaluate what they take the motto to mean and consider the implications of that meaning. Several members on the panel spoke of the comfort “Boston Strong” brings them, and their belief that it conjures a sense of unity and fortitude.
McKenna, however, raised an issue that often goes overlooked: for many of the people she serves every day, as well as for others counted among the marginalized communities of Boston, the motto and the One Fund have highlighted their sense of isolation. Members of these communities see death and suffering regularly in their neighborhoods and among their friends and loved ones, yet they often feel that Boston does not sufficiently respond to their plight.
The event successfully honored the Marathon and those affected, and celebrated the resilience of Boston after the tragedy, but also challenged the audience to think about what the motto really means and how Boston can become even stronger. Many members of the BC student body frequently engage with the marginalized communities of which McKenna spoke, and are therefore aware of the ways in which Boston is not strong. This event reminds students that there is always more to be done, and an inspirational slogan, though powerful and comforting, should be seen not as the answer to a city’s problems, but as a pledge to fix them.