Daily Updates

April 19, 2013

Makeshift memorial honors marathon’s dead, injured

BOSTON — The barricade separating the rest of Boylston Street from the active crime scene that was the Boston Marathon’s finish line has become a shrine. Ed Starbuck has become its “unofficial manager.”

As people step across the velvet ropes to lay a bouquet or write a message on one of the cards laid out in the street, Starbuck’s 5-year-old beagle, Rosie, thanks them with a lick or a nuzzle.

“A couple of days ago, I was on the couch and getting mad like everybody else,” the 57-year-old retiree in the red-white-and-blue windbreaker said as a stiff breeze tugged at the flags he has fastened along the metal gates. “And I decided to come and volunteer at the memorial.”

Each day since Monday’s bombings, Starbuck boards a bus from his home in Hyannis on Cape Cod for the hour-and-a-half ride. During one of his trips, he sewed together a string of small American flags to hang beside a collection that now stretches the width of Boylston and includes the iconic “Don’t Tread on Me” banner with the snake.

The barricade runs along fashionable Berkeley Street. Starbuck sat on a plastic milk crate at one end, beside three white crosses erected in memory of those who died in the twin blasts. A pair of running shoes and a marathon medal with its unicorn symbol hung from the barrier behind him, and a string of brightly colored Buddhist prayer flags flapped in the breeze in front of the gathered crowd.

Thursday afternoon, two members of the Massachusetts National Guard’s 747th Military Police Company, in fatigues and black bullet-proof vests, laid a unit and American flag patches on the sidewalk in front of Starbuck.

“Thank you,” he said to the men, one of whom had a tear clinging to the end of his nose. “You guys are doing a great job,” he said of the troops who have been helping patrol the city.

Others take turns volunteering at the barricade. But Starbuck is perhaps the most faithful, arriving home at 2 a.m. Thursday, then turning around and coming back on the morning bus that arrived just before noon.

Starbuck says he’s been a sailor, computer operator, landscaper, carpenter and painter over the years. He says he was in an accident that cost him his left eye and most of his hearing, but he won’t elaborate. He says he recovered from a bout of post-traumatic stress disorder.

He says manning the memorial is therapeutic.

“It makes me feel a lot better,” he says. “The interactions I have with people are really incredible.”

Starbuck describes himself as a Libertarian who thinks some of the gun proposals that recently came before Congress went a bit too far. But he shudders at the notion that the bombings might have had something to do with that debate.

“I cherish the values that we have, and I would hate to think of somebody that was born and brought up here and didn’t get it — didn’t get what America’s about,” he said. “I mean, part of the strength of democracy is we know what people think. And if there’s a problem, the proper authorities take care of it.”

Seeing the outpouring of grief and support at the barricade reassures Starbuck that things will be OK.

“When we get into these situations is when we pull together,” he says. “And I think this is a reminder that we’re all Americans, no matter what political bent we have. And our strength comes from diversity, And we’ll get through this.”

Except for the bus schedules, Starbuck says “time doesn’t exist” for now. He says he will stay and volunteer “as long as it takes.”

As he packed up and headed for his bus after dusk Thursday, bank employee Patrick MacDonald of Weymouth stopped to shake his hand.

“Sir,” he said to the grizzled volunteer, “What you’re doing here is fantastic.”

 

1
Text Only
Daily Updates
  • 10 Things to Know for Thursday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday.

    April 23, 2014

  • In Other News, April 23

    April 23, 2014

  • US weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10 years

    The Justice Department is encouraging nonviolent federal inmates who have behaved in prison, have no significant criminal history and have already served more than 10 years behind bars to apply for clemency, officials announced Wednesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • High court tosses $3.4M award to child porn victim

    The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a plea to make it easier for victims of child pornography to collect money from people who view their images online, throwing out a nearly $3.4 million judgment in favor of a woman whose childhood rape has been widely seen on the Internet. Two dissenting justices said Congress should change the law to benefit victims.

    April 23, 2014

  • Airport security vulnerabilities not uncommon

    For all the tens of billions of dollars that the nation has spent on screening passengers and their bags, few airports made a comparable investment to secure the airplanes themselves.

    April 23, 2014

  • Deal signs bill expanding gun rights in Georgia

    Gov. Nathan Deal has signed legislation expanding where people with licenses to carry can bring their guns in Georgia.

    April 23, 2014

  • Indian film awards arrive in Tampa, Fla., but why?

    The so-called Bollywood Oscars have been held in Macau, Singapore, London — and now, Tampa?

    April 23, 2014

  • Indictment: Prosecutor targeted in kidnapping plot

    A North Carolina prosecutor was the intended target of an elaborate kidnapping plot, but the kidnappers looked up the wrong address on the Internet and abducted the prosecutor’s father instead, according to an indictment released Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • Republican activists push party on gay marriage

    As bans against gay marriage crumble and public opinion on the issue shifts rapidly, some Republicans are pushing the party to drop its opposition to same-sex unions, part of a broader campaign to get the GOP to appeal to younger voters by de-emphasizing social issues.

    April 23, 2014

  • Missouri executes inmate for 1993 farm slaying

    Missouri executed an inmate early Wednesday only a few miles from the farm where prosecutors say he orchestrated the 1993 killing of a couple whose cows he wanted to steal.

    April 23, 2014