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  • Writer's picturePAYTON HEBERT & RYAN RUANE

11 years later: Alumni reflect on Boston bombings

Students gather in Arnow quad during the annual Boston Marathon celebration on April 15, 2013. Photo courtesy of Justin Miller

Just eleven years ago, two explosions changed the fabric of the Boston community in unimaginable ways. Boston was attacked on April 15, 2013, the day of the Boston Marathon, a day where the city united in pride and celebration. The community lived together in fear, in anger, and in mourning, all rooted in the same pride its attackers aimed to take away.

One year later, runners fearlessly took to the 26.2-mile course again, proving that Boston could not be broken. Eleven years later, their stories are still looked at as a symbol of strength and hope. 


Near the mile 17 marker of the race on April 15 is where Lasell students gathered, as students still do each year, to cheer on the race from the sidelines. In the Arnow quad, they gathered to dance to music and bond together. 


In that same quad, they got the news that bombs had gone off at the finish line. They got their last few moments of peace, not knowing that they’d be forced into lockdown, with not even food to fill the panic that lingered over their heads. 


Students began that morning like any other. Justin Miller (‘14) set up the DJ equipment in the Arnow quad for the first ever djayed Marathon Monday celebrations. Tony Percuoco (‘14) commuted to campus deep into celebrations after waking up late. Zac Vierra (‘13) spent the marathon in Boston, celebrating with a friend who attended Boston University. Each student went into the day with positive energy, anticipating what is typically the most exciting day on campus. 


It was at 3 p.m. that Miller recalled hearing the news that would shift his life forever. 


“Shortly after 3 p.m. as a crowd was jamming out close to the stage, a girl came up to me and looked distraught. She proceeded to tell me that she heard that a bomb went off in Boston and asked me if it was true. I had no clue what it was,” said Miller. “I figured something minor may have happened, but everything around campus was alright. I mentioned that we would monitor the situation and do our best to keep everyone safe.” 


As details were confirmed about the truth of the situation, fear began to stick. 


“When you hear news like that, it's so shaking and earth shattering that you just, you know, like, you don't want to have fun anymore,” said Percuoco. “We honestly thought that it was like the Boston version of 9/11.”


In the following days, as the location of the bombers remained unknown, classes proceeded with caution. The Wear Purple campaign emerged, and over half of the Lasell staff wore purple to classes in support of the bombing victims. In all of this, fear of more attacks lingered.


On Thursday night, after a standoff between suspects and police left one suspect on the loose, Boston, and the Lasell community, were forced into lockdown. Students were not to leave their dorms by any means, nor were they to let anyone into the building aside from police. 


People from the Boston community show support after the Boston bombing in 2013 by holding a memorial on Boylston Street. Photo courtesy of Justin Miller

“They were struggling to figure out how to feed an entire campus while we were on lockdown. Some deliveries of small snacks were made,” said Miller. “Inevitably, we were ordered to walk single file on a scheduled building to the campus center to get some type of makeshift meal. It was almost like a military line up doing this but we had no other option.”


On Friday, April 19, police apprehended the second bomber after the first had been killed during the standoff. The panic was finally over, a feeling Miller remembers vividly. 


“You could hear overwhelming screams of joy throughout our building. People started celebrating on social media. They went out of [their] dorm buildings and continued to cheer in excitement,” said Miller. 


In all the terror, the thing these alumni spoke most strongly about was pride. For them, the marathon tragedy served as a reminder of how precious life is, and also how strong the community was. 


“That day and the following week really reinforced how much I love Boston and the people who live there and call it home. It also was a reminder to cherish life,” said Vierra. “I could have easily been at the finish line that day like so many other people were and my life would be totally different because of it.” 


Percuoco, who grew up in Billerica, said that the tragedy hit close to home for him, as he even had close family friends who were at the finish line and had to have limbs amputated because of the attack. 


“It definitely brought us together more as a group, you know, we all went through it together. So, it kind of just brought us together more closely knit as a community on campus,” said Percuoco. “It made me put things into perspective, because it was so close to my home. And you know, Lasell is my home.”


Percuouco now works at Lasell as the Undergraduate Admissions Office Manager. He said that the bombings have impacted his philosophy on life, even today. 


“[The bombings] definitely kind of taught me the lesson of don't take so much for granted because you don't know what the next day will bring,” said Percuoco. “That's probably what I get the most emotional about, you know, the people that are close to you can be taken away in an instant.”

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