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Week Of Hardship Strains City Of Boston


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The city of Boston has been through an extraordinary string of challenges this week. The city's famous race was bombed, killing three people, injuring scores of others. The city was locked down for nearly a full day in order to search for the killers.

But now Boston can take a breath. One of the suspects in the bombing has been killed, and last night, of course, the remaining suspect was captured alive. Mike Barnicle was born and raised in Massachusetts, where he was a famous long-time columnist for the Boston Globe. He's now seen frequently on MSNBC and joins us now from his home just outside of Boston. Mike, thanks so much for being with us.

MIKE BARNICLE: Oh, I'm glad to be here, Scott.

SIMON: You know, it's one thing to be brave for an hour, a day. It was just about five full days. How is Boston holding up? How did it take it?

BARNICLE: Well, you know, I think it - the city took it the same way that any other American city would take it, including your home town in Chicago. There was first shock at the explosions of the two devices. Then there was fear: Was there going to be any more explosions? Then there was anger over the explosions. And then there was a determination, the final phase, that people were determined to live their lives as fear-free as possible in the environment of the past several days.

And we're not going to be imprisoned by fear, and we're going to continue on, which is what people did.

SIMON: I don't want to forget for a moment the people who died, or for that matter the scores of people who are going to have a really hard time recovering because of their injuries. And I wonder if you've given some thought to how this is going to affect the city going forward.

BARNICLE: Oh, you know, that's an interesting question, Scott, because in the euphoria of last evening, and I was in Watertown last night when the second suspect was captured, and after the capture, people, citizens, hundreds of them lined Mount Auburn Street in Cambridge, which is the main route in Watertown, which is the main route out of Watertown into Cambridge and Boston, as the police cruisers passed by, applauding the cops and the firefighters and the EMTs.

So there was a euphoria there, but the reality is, as you just mentioned, there are hundreds of people who were maimed and injured, some severely, some psychically, hundreds more probably injured psychically, we don't know how that's going to work out over the years.

But the other day I was at the Boston Medical Center visiting two people, a mother and a daughter, and the mother worked in a hair salon on Newbury Street, one block over from the finish line on Boylston Street in Boston. And her daughter had come in to visit her on Monday because it was a vacation day, it's Patriots Day. And they decided to go to the finish line to see the mother's sister come across the finish line about two and a half hours after the marathon began, three hours after the marathon began, which is when most of the runners spill by.

They arrived at the finish line. The devices were exploded. The mother is now in Boston Medical Center, a double amputee, and the daughter nearly died. Her femoral artery was cut. But she - her life was saved by strangers, individual strangers who wrapped her and provided a tourniquet. So this is going to play out for some time.

SIMON: The suspects in the case, of course, have been identified as having been overseas, but these were Boston guys, spent most of their what we'd call formative years in Boston. Do you worry about divisions in the city breaking out over this?

BARNICLE: No, I don't. I worry about, you know, a fringe of anger and resentment towards things like immigration. But while Boston is a city of - and Cambridge is a city of narrow streets and old streets, it's much more open and always has been in its acceptance of people from other countries, other states, other than New York City because of the Yankees.


SIMON: The Yankees came through for Boston this week.

BARNICLE: They did. They showed a tremendous amount of class. But each year, as you know, in this city, in September, the city opens its hearts and its minds to thousands of younger people from all over the world and all over the country as school begins in all the various colleges. The hospitals here are filled with people, doctors, surgeons, who come from other cultures, other countries.

So I don't worry, really, about a massive sense of anger or resentment towards these two people. They were, in effect, Americans. They have been here for 10, 11 years.

SIMON: Mike Barnicle, thanks so much.

BARNICLE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.