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Martin Richard’s Image Should Become Worldwide Symbol of Peace

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Martin Richard, the 8-year-old boy who was killed during the Boston Marathon attacks, was laid to rest on April 23, 2013, in a private ceremony. It is incongruous to even think about someone so young dying, but even more so when we realize it was because of such incomprehensible violence perpetrated for reasons beyond rational thought.

In the days since the bombings that killed three and injured hundreds, we have been subjected to seeing the faces of the terrorists responsible for the carnage everywhere in the media. Truthfully, I do not want or need to know about their backstories. Yes, these brothers had their reasons for doing what they did, but they are always the same in these cases (they have some particular axe to grind). The face we should be seeing everywhere is Martin Richard, specifically in this picture where he holds his handmade sign that reads “No More Hurting People.” This heartbreaking image should be what we see when we see something about this story because this beautiful boy is what those terrorists callously destroyed.

We have also been subjected to the terrorists’ mother being everywhere in the media exclaiming, “They killed my son!” One of the brothers died in a shootout with police; the other is now incarcerated. As you can see, I am purposely not using their names here. The reason is simple – by giving them more and more publicity we only encourage them and those of their ilk. These people think that by committing some kind of senseless act or acts that they will get their warped version of fame. The press is complicit in this matter because they usually are only more than willing to give these people the coverage they long to get.

Consider the case of David Berkowitz, dubbed the Son of Sam, who killed six people and wounded seven during his reign of terror (1976-77) in New York City. He loved the coverage that the TV and newspapers gave to his attacks, even writing to one paper and taunting law enforcement. Each time he killed or wounded someone, it was guaranteed front page headlines. It was as if he had written his own denouement, for when he finally got caught his picture was on every front page. He had achieved the warped ending that he wanted.

Let us not promote those who cause such pain and suffering and instead utilize the image of Martin Richard holding his sign asking the world for peace. We have to hope that this image can be seen everywhere. If I could I would rent a billboard in every city in the world and have Martin’s face beaming out with the words “Give Peace a Chance” under it. We have to understand that, as John Lennon once noted, war can only be over if we want it. The killing has to be stopped, especially considering the most young and innocent victims that are seemingly always caught in the crossfire.

This means that our own country has to be meaningfully part of the process. I understand that the military has used drones to target terrorists, but there seems to always be children in the same vicinity. That kind of collateral damage can never be acceptable; therefore, the use of drones should be severely curtailed or eliminated. It would be my hope that all governments and even terrorists would reconsider their actions and limit the types of assaults they implement during times of war or for political motivations.

A terrorist blowing up anything that kills innocent people may indeed be creating the “terror” he or she seeks to foment; however, the political message they are trying to convey is always lost in the human suffering that inevitably follows. The same can be said about the governments (the U.S. included) who claim they are targeting the enemy and hurt innocents in the process. There is no way that people who lose sons and daughters during a drone attack are going to understand that the U.S. is fighting its “war on terror” as they bury their dead children.

I am realistic and know we can never stop all these kinds of things from happening. There will always be that guy, like Berkowitz, who snaps and goes off the deep end; however, we can try to eliminate state sponsored violence that causes loss of life and hope that, as many people note, that terrorists only react to violence that is perpetrated by governments. Whether it is state sponsored or not, killing people should be murder in every sense of the word, just as it was in the Boston Marathon attacks.

The other day Martin Richard’s baseball team played its first game of the season. Instead of standing on the field, Martin is lying in the ground. The immensity of this loss was noted in the town of Dorchester, Massachusetts, with a solemn march and ceremony. The Savin Hill Little League kept to the tradition of a parade from its headquarters to McConnell Field, but this year the heft of what happen on April 15, and the loss of Martin, weighed heavily on the proceedings. On the field “Boston Strong” was stenciled along with a huge number 8 (Martin’s number). Martin’s memory was honored, but his absence was felt by the many people in attendance, and his teammates and classmates are all grieving and will continue to need support and guidance as they deal with their friend’s loss.

In moments like these we always seek something good to come out of such horror. That is why Martin Richard’s message of peace needs to be broadcast to the world. We Americans need to be meaningfully involved with making true peace happen, and we need the governments of the world to join us as we attempt to make the world a safe place for our children. Nothing else – and I mean truly nothing else – matters more.

Yes, I know how difficult this process will be, but think how arduous it is to bury children who die from such violence. Perhaps the United Nations could declare a Martin Richard World Peace Day. We have to start somewhere, so why not honor a boy who dreamed of a world being at peace? In doing so we could begin taking steps (and they will be baby steps at first) toward making Martin’s dream a reality. Can we truly give peace a chance for our children? It is up to adults everywhere to make it so.

Photo credits: martin Richard – people.com; mcconnel field –espnboston.com

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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana has published numerous stories, articles, and poems in literary magazines and online. His books In a Dark Time (1994), A Death in Prague (2002), Move (2003), The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories (2005) and Like a Passing Shadow (2009) are available online and as e-books. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated mostly on fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with Blogcritics since July 2005, has edited many articles, was co-head sports editor with Charley Doherty, and now is a Culture and Society editor. He views Blogcritics as one of most exciting, fresh, and meaningful opportunities in his writing life.
  • Kathy

    I agree.
    The photo of him with that sign brings such sadness to my heart. They should put it in the killers cell where he has to view it daily.