Letter to the Editor: Humanity shows through in tragedy


I viewed the explosions at the Boston Marathon via replays from my hotel TV in Philadelphia, while attending an annual meeting of AJCU library directors. As a former resident of Boston for 14 years, I had run the marathon seven times – six times, ’02-’07, while raising money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and meeting Larry, my patient partner and a two-time cancer survivor who recently celebrated his 21st birthday, at Mile 25 from which we trotted to the finish line together, passing the site exactly at or very near the time of last week’s explosions.

My thought – likely the thought of so many New Englanders and so many others who have participated in the marathon in one way or the other – was: “Again, this time at home.” I texted my wife and sons immediately after hearing of the casualties. Our collective response was not so much a question, “Why?,” because we had seen similar events affect our nation and had not found easy answers to this question. Rather, we acknowledged together something more elemental: “This is so messed up.”

Law enforcement officials identified the perpetrators and continue investigations. Meanwhile, I’ve taken solace in witnessing from afar several expressions of goodwill: candlelight vigils honoring victims and all affected, strangers housing other strangers (runners and their families and friends) during the first chaotic nights, displays of emotion and support expressed by fans and players of Boston’s pro sports teams.

In front of the Monroe Library, leading to its main entrance, is a gift of Loyola’s Class of 2002 and Class of 2003: 10 touchstones describing “Ideals of a Jesuit Education.” Each touchstone is compelling and worthy of our frequent consideration, but one message in particular I’ve thought about again and again since last week, from my conference sessions and hotel room in Philly and to now back in my office overlooking the touchstones: Appreciation of Things Both Great and Small. At the conference I met a library director who is donating a kidney this week, simply because his kidney is an excellent match for the recipient. The night of the marathon I received a text from my running partner’s father, also named Larry, asking how I was.

People looking out for other people – in so many ways – is what I’ve seen in the last several days. It’s what I, a member of the Loyola community, wish to demonstrate.


Mike Olson, dean of libraries and Loyola professor