Patriots’ Day is a state holiday in Massachusetts and Maine. It also marks the start of the one-week spring vacation for school children. And, as we all now know, the third Monday in April is not only Patriots’ Day, but the day of the annual and oldest U.S. marathon, the Boston Marathon.
No one in my family, which is plagued with osteoarthritis, has run the marathon, but my late sister Terri and her husband, Steven, used to live at the top of a street in Ashland past which the racers run at the beginning of the race. They and their friends took the opportunity to go down to the end of the street to watch the runners pass, and then continued the celebration at their house.
Each Patriots’ Day and Boston Marathon, back here in Minnesota, I think of my sister, who died at a young age of cancer. Last Monday was no exception. Patriots’ Day has not been the same for me since her death. Now, it will not be the same for any of us.
As I was surfing through the channels on Monday evening for more information on the bombing at the marathon, I stopped at the Hannity show, where he was conducting an interview with a man whose name I didn’t catch, but who seemed to have worked in a Washington agency during a recent administration. He had traveled often to Israel, he said, and pointed out that while Israel does have an exemplary security system, it is successful because the Israeli people agree to give up much of their freedom.
“In the United States,” he said ruefully, “we value our freedom.”
We do, don’t we. But we have proved that we are willing to curtail some of our freedom of movement for safety. We wear seat belts, we go through security at the airport and some large gatherings. We have locked doors and guards at the high school here.
There must be a happy medium between rigid and invasive government security measures that take away constitutional rights and complete freedom of movement. We in this country have to accept the fact that we are under siege not only by foreign terrorists, but by the unfortunate scourges of life.
We may find that the bombs in Boston were set off by someone very much like Adam Lanza — the mentally ill young man who shot school children to death in Connecticut last December — or Timothy McVeigh — who was responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Perhaps it was set by a foreign terrorist.
We cannot legislate against all evil, tragedy, or death. What we can do is to spend more resources to understand mental illness, to treat it, and to “find a cure.”
My sympathies are with the families of the victims of this bombing and with the hundreds of people who will suffer from physical and mental anguish in its aftermath. Lives are forever changed, including ours.
Last Sunday, the day of the horrible slush storm, was a busy day. All I wanted to do was to stay at home, turn on the gas fireplace, pour a cup of tea and read a book. Not the way the day was to go.
At noon, the Edstrom and Bachler families celebrated at a luncheon the engagement of Matthew, Steve’s son, and Chrissy. Scandinavian Minnesotans being the brave Vikings they are, the celebrants all arrived, from as far away as Moorhead, despite the weather.
In the afternoon, the Great River Shakespeare Festival held its annual Spring Preview, unveiling the set and costume designs for the season’s plays and announcing the cast for Henry V and Twelfth Night. There was a good crowd for the event, which was held at the Winona County History Center, and enthusiastic reception of the good news that many favorite actors will be returning and there will be some new faces as well. (See story page 5a.)
From there, many of us went to the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, where five new paintings were to be unveiled.
When I got out of my car at the museum, which as you know is located on the river road, there was an overwhelming sound of birds, masses of birds. They were perched in the river trees in the grove next to the museum. The sound seemed amplified by the closeness of the clouds. Suddenly, a huge flock of the birds, in a mass bigger than two football fields, took off simultaneously from the trees and flew in an undulating formation over the barges tied up in the slough. A smaller segment, about a quarter, then separated itself from the whole and flew back to the grove. The rest of the birds moved on north. The whole time this frenzied action was occurring, two bald eagles sat impassively in the trees nearest the water, keeping an eye out for a fish dinner, no doubt.
The incredible noise then died away, the rain continued, I stepped around the ridges of slush in the parking lot, and entered the museum, where the unveiling was in progress.
My two favorite new paintings included one by the American Impressionist Theodore Robinson, and a powerful painting by Jamie Wyeth. It was a tough choice! The others were an early Mondrian, a wonderful Andrew Wyeth, and a fascinating early Kandinsky, an example of his work before he embraced the abstract style for which he is known.
As I drove home in the depressing cold rain, I was struck again by the quality of the artistic scene in Winona and the brightness it brings to our lives. Thank you to the generous donors who make it all possible.