Linda Leonard Ambard was running the Boston Marathon at the time of the deadly terror attack that killed at least three people Monday, including an 8-year-old boy. At least another 170 were wounded. Seventeen are listed in critical condition.
Ambard recalls she was the cheerful girl zipping through the marathon with a swish of her red polka-dotted skirt and a huge smile on her face. It was her 73rd marathon, third running of the Boston Marathon, but this one was different.
Ambard ran in tribute of her husband, who was killed in Afghanistan. She was about a quarter of a mile from the finish line at the time of the bombings.
“I was having a wonderful day, Ambard said. “I was having a good time. I was using that marathon as a way to embrace the life I have been given.”
Ambard’s husband, Phil, and eight other soldiers were assassinated in 2011 by a lieutenant colonel in the Afghanistan military. Her husband had become good friends with the officer who committed the assassinations.
Ambard, who also has four children serving in the military, felt running in the marathon would help her heal and honor her husband. She says terrorists took her husband’s life, and stole her day to honor him.
“At mile 26 I could see the finish line,” Ambard said. “I heard this bomb and I could feel the ground shake. You could smell things. It was a smell I had never smelled before.”
She says it took her back to that awful day in April 2011 that she had learned of her husband’s death. She acknowledges that it was a smell that was most likely all too familiar for her husband, but like two years ago, she now still holds on to her faith.
“It’s a choice to fall onto your faith,” Ambard said. “You do need to make the choice because it will make all the difference. The terrorists seek to undermine our spirit, our heart, our faith and our love of country. We have to stand strong and pray. Because if we don’t our entire nation will crumble.”
WHDH television cameras on the scene recorded two explosions as it was covering the event that Ambard heard was she reached mile marker 26. The footage reveals two bombs exploded in the crowded streets near the finish line of the marathon.
During a press conference, Massachusetts General Hospital surgeon Dr. Peter Fagenholz said the dominant injury was “combined complex lower extremity injuries,” involving blood vessels, bone, and soft tissue.
“It’s just depressing that it’s intentional,” Dr. Fagenholz. “I can’t say I’ve ever seen this volume of patients come this quickly with this type of injury.”
The Boston Athletic Association (BAA), sponsors of the marathon, expressed sympathy to those who were affected by the bombing.
“Today is a sad day for the City of Boston, for the running community, and for all those who were here to enjoy the 117th running of the Boston Marathon,” the group said in a written statement. “What was intended to be a day of joy and celebration quickly became a day in which running a marathon was of little importance.”
Was It a Terror Attack?
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is taking the lead in the investigation, said authorities. The FBI said the investigation of the explosions is a “criminal investigation that is a potential terrorism investigation.” The FBI also confirms it is undergoing a global investigation.
"This will be a combined federal, state and local effort," Richard DesLauriers, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston Division, said at a news briefing by law enforcement officials on Monday evening.
Steve McConkey, president 4 WINDS, was 100 meters from where the bomb went off during the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics. Steve was with his wife Liz, their son, and a family friend. Madison, Wisconsin-based 4 WINDS is a track and field ministry that works with athletes worldwide.
"We need to pray for those injured and for the families of those who died at Boston," said Steve McConkey, 4WINDS president. "Pray the authorities would find who is responsible. This will change forever how road races are done in the USA. You will see Olympic type security at all events, including more track and field meets. It is a sad day for the running community in the US."
According to White House officials, the Patriot Day attack is the worst bombing on U.S. soil since security was tightened after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Former Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Bob Liscouski and Implant Sciences' Board of Directors, a supplier of systems and sensors for the security market, contend federal budget cuts in defense are making it difficult to provide secure environments, especially in large public gatherings.
“Without knowing all the details I can’t be completely sure, but it clearly looks like a terrorist attack,” Liscouski said. “The type of attack that it was – two separate bombings in close proximity to one another.”
Liscouski argues the US must be vigilant in protecting its citizens.
“It shows the vulnerability of soft targets such as a mass gathering like the Boston Marathon,” Liscourski said. “Whether it’s an al Qaida-inspired bombing or a home grown extremist it’s a something we have to be aware of all the time.”
Police have been in contact with a 20-year-old Saudi national in connection with the bombings. The New York Post reports investigators searched the man’s Revere, Mass. apartment Monday afternoon.
Officials questioned the man at Boston’s Brigham and Women's Hospital, while he was treated for shrapnel injuries on his leg.
How to Respond
James C. Denison, Ph.D., an expert on cultural and contemporary issues, provides ways in which Christians can respond to such tragedy.
“First, consider Psalms 91:1 ‘He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty’ (v. 1),” Denison said. “Clearly, the psalmist was writing in a time of adversity, yet five times he states his personal trust in his Lord: I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’" (Psalms 91:2, my emphasis).
Denison maintains it is also important to observe how many responded in the aftermath of the bombings.
NBC Sports Network tweeted that there were "reports of Marathon runners that crossed finish line and continued to run to Mass General Hospital to give blood to victims,” Denison notes. “In many of the videos shown on news sources, people could be seen running toward victims rather than away from the source of the explosion.”
Denison suggests as people respond to crisis by making God their refuge and fortress, Christians can also respond by showing others His care in ours.
That’s certainly what Linda Leonard Ambard intends to do. Ambard asserts she will keep up the good fight and run again.
“I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I am going to run Boston again,” Ambard adds. “I have to do it. Otherwise the assassin has won the war and he is not winning because he has taken two battles now.”
Russ Jones is a 25-year award-winning journalist and correspondent. He is co-publisher of various Christian news sites such as ChristianPress.com, OxfordFamily.com and a media consultant to a number of political and cause-oriented campaigns. He is also a freelance correspondent for the American Family Radio Network, a regular contributor for ReligionToday.com, Crosswalk.com and various Christian TV networks. He has been a guest on such programs as the Mike Gallagher Show, the Dennis Prager Show and Sandy Rios in the Morning. Jones holds degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia and St. Paul School of Theology. Russ is married to Jackie and together they have four children. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook.com/russjones or Facebook.com/christianpressnews
Publication date: April 16, 2013