As the anniversary of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing approaches, the world once again focuses on both its aftermath and the progress of the victims and their families. By all accounts, they have braved this year’s challenges with a sobering courage, determination and grit, supported by their loved ones and a city that has embraced them. Haunted by terror and grieving irreversible losses, they have quietly struggled to adapt to their new realities.
In an instant last year, they were chosen by an indifferent fate to take the road less traveled. How this cosmic miscarriage of justice determines the rest of their odyssey is entirely up to them. In less than a year, they’ve found and cultivated new relationships with loved ones, each another, the community, and the world. Like racers in a Marathon, they’ve taken it one step at a time, day after day, on an indescribable personal journey that only they can take. As unique human beings, they’ve risen to the challenges of their individual circumstances.
Recapturing and redefining the dreams of their former lives is an Olympian endeavor. For some, this means enjoying a quiet normalcy that the rest of us take for granted. For others, like Jeff Bauman and Carlos Arrendondo, it means finding a North Star in the darkest moments of your life and blossoming as diplomats of the heart. Human spirits have struggled mightily and prevailed. Truly good things have come out of an evil act.
The breadth and depth of the community’s support was and is astonishing.From first responders to healthcare professionals and private citizens, Boston has embraced the survivors with open arms and hearts. Spanning three centuries, the Boston Marathon, is the embodiment of personal and social resilience. In 1897, the first finisher bested a field of 15. Today, it ranks only behind the Super Bowl as the most widely covered single sporting day in the world with an average of 20,000 entrants and over 500,000 spectators. It appears to have legs. The survivors of last year’s bombing, Boston, and the Marathon share a resolve and calmacht that inspire the same in others.
An internationally renowned local artist, Keith Francis, is no stranger to Boston. In fact, he designed the international award winning poster for the opening of the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge (2002); was designated as the official artist of the Democratic National Convention held in Boston (2004); and in 2006 was commissioned to created a stainless steel sculpture memorial for the six fallen Worcester Firefighters.
Keith has captured that Boston spirit in a new contemporary sculpture entitled “Perseverance” to commemorate last April’s event. Towering at 10 feet, the polished stainless steel portal beckons observers to cross the threshold; to explore the interior; to be embraced and protected. Geometrically, it is an infinite series of circles on a z-axis. Infinite because every time someone passes through it, a circle is added. In essence, “Perseverance” becomes a community of those who have passed through and experienced it.
The cylinder is flawlessly smooth except for the lip of an edge that is curved, symbolizing the disruption in the circles of those lives affected by the bombing. With a width of 3’–2”, and resting on a foundation 10’–0″ x 12′-0″ “Perseverance” resembles a shiny ribbon as the stainless steel catches and reflects the sun’s rays. Few will ever walk past it without a closer look. Approximately 350 separate bricks will form the base and will be made available for sale to the public to individualize and commemorate.
Ideally, the sculpture will reside near the finish line of the Marathon, in Copley Square Park in Boston, marking the spot where the first responders were called. Here, “Perseverance” would greet future finishers every year and visitors every day, allowing them to contemplate the event and its effect on victims, their loved ones and its historic implications.