The first explosion went off at about 2:50 p.m. Monday.
Then there was a second blast. Reports of injuries followed. Pictures taken from iPhones and security cameras showed, in real time, the chaos that ensued at the finish line.
Students at GW were far away from the tragic events up the coast in Boston. But there was a sense of close connection, even from hundreds of miles away, as we watched the rush of Tweets and Facebook posts throughout the afternoon and into the night.
The University community learned about the catastrophe minute-by-minute, watching from the District. And despite the distance, we felt a sense of attachment to the events and the victims, trying to make sense of the chaos.
Whether you have family in Boston or friends who were at the marathon Monday afternoon, all Americans – and even members of the international community – were touched by this event. And when the effects of the tragedy came to the District as the White House heightened security, the chill on campus was that much more palpable.
Tuesday and Wednesday, news outlets reported that letters sent to both President Barack Obama and lawmakers on Capitol Hill contained ricin, a poisonous substance.
Three people were killed at the Boston Marathon, and the number of injuries climbs as authorities learn more. How do you respond to tragedies that, though located in a single city, rock an entire nation?
Students at GW who struggle with the ramifications of the bombings should know that they can find comfort and security at the University Counseling Center.
And in the coming days and weeks, students, faculty and administrators should be especially vigilant and take advantage of the CARE network, through which they can identify students who might be struggling emotionally.
The unfortunate events in Boston were an act of terror. The perpetrators were trying to instill fear in the hearts of all Americans.
There’s no way to go back and change what happened. But the American people, especially in Boston, will rebound.
In a press briefing Tuesday afternoon, President Barack Obama described the resilience of the American public.
“What the world saw yesterday in the aftermath of the explosions were stories of heroism and kindness, and generosity and love,” he said. “Exhausted runners who kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood, and those who stayed to tend to the wounded, some tearing off their own clothes to make tourniquets. The first responders who ran into the chaos to save lives.”
As the days pass, we hope intelligence officials will begin to piece the details together in pursuit of justice so families and friends will begin to find closure.
In the meantime, we will find solace in one another. We will mourn together.