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April 21, 2014

Boston Marathon 2014: Back to (the New) Normal

Marathon flyover Getty

Maybe it was different being there, but the photographs from the Boston Marathon yesterday give as much an impression of militarism as normalcy. Funny how getting back on track looks a lot like war time.

Soldiers cross marathon finish line Getty

Yellow Ribbon Marathon Getty

In contrast to security (even intense security quietly in place, like at an inauguration or an Olympics or at the UN), what manifests in the pictures instead is a demonstration of strength, of #BostonStrong. I don’t know about you but to me, looking at these images, the display of force is it’s own expression of cultural violence.

Marathon rooftop patrol Getty

Soldier street marathon Getty

The other thing that stuck out yesterday — which stuck out for ten years after 9/11 — was the pervasive display of nationalism. If anything, the flag has become a talisman to confirm we’re not vanishing, that we’re safe, or okay, or we’re back, or we’re strong — that we are who we say we are. It seems there’s some gene in the American body to confirm our identity, our heritage, our values and our way of life practically at the expense of just going about it.

Runner holds flag Marathon Getty

Bald man flag marathon Getty

Police dogs dogs flags marathon Getty

Somehow, I had this fantasy — albeit with more cops and barriers — that yesterday would be more about the sun and the air, about people waving and runners running, the pride replenishing itself through the ordinary. If you think about it, isn’t real freedom not having to be so self-conscious? Aren’t values and community something we live, not demonstrate? What’s happened to us that we got so caught up in the wrapping paper?

Not that poignancy and magic had any trouble surfacing, however, through by the mania of redemption and self-assurance. As if in solace for the trauma that marred this stored event last year, how poetic a U.S. citizen, Meb Keflezighi, was the first American victor in the men’s race since 1983. Of course, in the natural exultation and the poetic justice, Meb and his friends found the perfect background.

Meb flag police media Marathon

(photo 1: Alex Trautwig/Getty Images caption: Volunteers look on during a flyover by the Massachusetts Army National Guard members of “C” Company, 3rd of.the 126th General Support Aviation Battalion before the start of the 118th Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014 in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.photo 2: Jim Rogash/Getty Images caption: Two soldiers cross the finish line of the 118th Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. photo 3: Andrew Burton/Getty Images caption: Fans with a “Boston Strong” poster cheer on runners as they finish the Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. Today marks the 118th Boston Marathon; security presence has been increased this year, due to two bombs that were detonated at the finish line last year, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others. photo 4: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images caption: Boston Police officers patrol a rooftop along Boylston Street near the finish line during the 2014 B.A.A. Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. Today marks the 118th Boston Marathon; security presence has been increased this year, due to two bombs that were detonated at the finish line last year, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others. photo 5: Andrew Burton/Getty Images abbreviated caption: A Military Police officer stands guard prior to the start of the Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014 in Hopkington, Massachusetts. photo 6 & 7: Jim Rogash caption: A runners holds/approaches the finish line with an American flag during the 2014 B.A.A. Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.photo 8: Alex Trautwig/Getty Images caption: Police with dogs patrol the start area prior to the 118th Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014 in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. photo 9: Jim Rogash/Getty Images caption: Meb Keflezighi of the United States celebrates after winning the 118th Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.)

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