FORT WAYNE – Fort Wayne native Dr. David Reichwage watched the horror of Monday’s Boston Marathon unfold from the streets of the city.
Two days later, he wrote about it.
Reichwage, 66, is a dentist and owner of Fort Wayne Smiles, P.C. He was one of 13 Fort Wayne residents registered to compete in the marathon – a race that ended in two explosions, three deaths and more than 170 injuries.
“I have run 25 Boston Marathons, and each year I feel the exhilaration, excitement, and sense of accomplishment in just participating in this event,” Reichwage wrote in his letter to The Journal Gazette. “Forget the distance, the miles, the weather, the course, or the finish time. There is a unifying force in Boston wherever you go.
“On the street, in the mall, at the expo, and at restaurants – it goes beyond excitement, winner camaraderie, friendliness, or common goals. It allows complete strangers of all nationalities and cultures from around the globe to gather in Boston for a few days to unify.
“It transcends politics, religion, and the economy.”
One moment Monday changed all that. Thousands more moments, however, showed that spirit could not be broken.
Emergency personnel and random strangers worked to evacuate civilians, get victims to emergency care and offer help to others searching for loved ones.
Bystanders – and some runners, after a 26.2-mile trek – gave blood at nearby hospitals. The Boston Globe set up a Google spreadsheet where people could post contact information for spare rooms for displaced runners. It picked up nearly 1,000 entries within 20 minutes and ballooned from there to nearly 6,000 two days later, when the Globe shut down submissions.
The best of humanity, in the course of a few hours, supplanted the worst of it. Reichwage, like most, was left in awe.
“Terrorism, destruction, death, and tragedy overshadowed any importance of the 117th Boston Marathon,” he wrote. “The joyful exhilaration, thrill of finishing, and celebration were quickly pushed aside.
“Despite the horrific scene, the spirit in the people of Boston was shown brilliantly bright by everyone who unselfishly jumped into action to help the injured, law enforcement, and first responders.”
Reichwage shared 345 words about the run, the unity of a city and nation in the face of tragedy and what was lost – and won – in the calamity Monday.
Though the pain for some was immeasurable, so too was the outpouring of support from family, friends and complete strangers. While this race was different from all his others in the most horrific of ways, that unity remained. In fact, it shone brighter than he’d ever seen.
“For an instant of time, we connect with each other on a deeper level than superficial self,” Reichwage wrote. “We share our own spirit and soul of who we truly are.”