Hundreds of USM community members across all three campuses held vigils Wednesday at noon for the victims and families affected by the Boston Marathon bombings, reflecting upon the tragedy and the startling reality of terrorism when it occurs so close to home.
After two explosions at the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured over 150 others, many in Portland were shocked that such an event could occur only an hour and half away.
“Solidarity and sympathy have more power to carry the day [than the hatred that motivated the attack], and they have the power to redeem this broken, killing, maiming, aching and yet somehow resilient world,” said University Interfaith Chaplain Andrea Thompson McCall to the crowd in Portland
Linking hands, the crowd stood for a moment of silence, and many went up the pathway between the Sullivan Gym and Luther Bonney Hall to tie ribbons around the branches of a budding tree near a plaque honoring the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“I think that it is great that as a university, we have come together. I wish that it had been at a time that was more convenient so that more people could have come.” said Kyle Frazier, a sophomore English and political science double major, reflecting on the event.
Joshua Dodge, a sophomore majoring in political science, spoke as he leaned against the small tree, writing a brief message on his ribbon.
“I’m really happy that the USM community has come to the aid of those around them,” he said. “I find that USM is a very resilient place, and I find that wherever you go in the USM community, there are a lot of people who are willing to help you, whether you know them or not.”
Dodge also said that he knows someone who lives only a block away from where the explosions went off. “The first thing I did was go on Facebook to ask whether he was ok. And he said that he was. I was very grateful for that.”
Dodge was not the only USM student who had family and friends in Boston or who were even at the marathon when the attacks happened. Freshman Anna Skellenger, a marketing major, said that one of her good friends was close to the finish line when the blasts went off. She had thought that he was visiting family in Martha’s Vineyard, but he and his family had decided to go see the race Monday.
“He said it was the most terrifying thing he had ever seen,” she said. “He’s kind of post-traumatic right now — he isn’t really talking too much about it. He said that everyone dropped what they were doing, picked up their kids and ran.”
By Thursday evening, authorities had shot one of the two men suspected to have taken part in the bombings, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The following night, authorities captured his brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, alive. It is uncertain whether authorities will be able to interrogate the captured suspect, as he has sustained serious injuries that have rendered him unable to speak.