Boston Balloon

Dear Terrence,

You’re only fourteen. Your memories of 9/11 are someone else’s, for you were only two years old when it happened. Those of us who can remember do with great clarity. Perhaps today will become something similar for you.

In footage likely to become as iconic as the shots of the planes hitting the World Trade Center, we can see all we really need to understand, at some gut level, what happened in Boston today. Shortly after the first explosion, shortly after the smoke and dust begin to rise, we see them.

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Three balloons suddenly drift up from smoke and dust, lost balloons that drift away from the carnage almost effortlessly. I didn’t notice it the first time, but, as on 9/11, the networks showed the same footage again and again and again. Finally, I noticed them. And shortly after that, I shuddered at the implication. In all likelihood, someone was holding those balloons, and the jolt and jerk of the explosion caused whoever was holding the balloon to let go.

And then I thought of who usually holds balloons.

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We’re all like that hypothetical kid holding the balloon, the kid who might very well be this boy. Or the three-year-old who sustained significant, possibly life-threatening injuries. We hold on tightly to the little bits of comfort we’ve found in life until something like this jars us, makes us wonder whether it’s all about to float away like ether.

Your Teacher


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