A Boston Account: Five days of fright, of love and of strength

Photo by Brenda Maguire

By Brenda Maguire
For Journal Register News Service

I woke up early on April 15, 2013. I turned on the T.V. to check on the progress of the Boston Marathon. I watched with a friend as the wheelchair race winners crossed the line. Just before noon we started walking towards the race to cheer them along. We settled in on the corner of Massachusetts Ave. and Commonwealth Ave. The sun was shining and we joked about how lazy we felt standing around drinking Dunkin Donuts while the runners were on mile 25.

After standing there for a while, we made our way to the finish line. I texted friends and family telling them I was at the Marathon, partaking in the greatest annual event in Boston. The crowd was too big, and we were stuck about half of a block away from the finish line. Then, just before 2 p.m. we left the Marathon and made our way back to my friend’s apartment in Cambridge.

It was five years ago that I came to Boston to attend Northeastern University. Over the last five years Boston has become my second city and my second home. I have cheered my lungs out at Red Sox games and have attended the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Southie. I’ve been known to throw the Boston-stylized version of the word “wicked” into conversation here and there and I have cheered on the runners on Marathon Monday. Although I will always be a Philly girl, Boston has become a huge part of me.

At 2:50 p.m. on April 15, 2013 something happened that would change my second city forever.

I first saw the news of the explosions on Twitter. I grabbed my phone right away, which had been in my purse since we left the Marathon. I was greeted by 10 texts, two missed calls and a voicemail from my sister practically in tears, thinking I was still at the Marathon. I quickly assured all that I was okay, but the calls and texts never stopped. The rest of the day was spent watching the news and responding to at least 40 texts and calls from my family and friends.

Where the bombs exploded is about a mile from my dorm. When I finally mustered up the courage to come back to campus it was devastating. There were military men with huge guns lined on the streets I walk every single day. I couldn’t walk ten yards without encountering a big group of policemen. This was not the Boston I’ve lived in. This was not the Boston I’ve loved.

On Wednesday afternoon I decided to walk around the perimeter where the police had blocked off. As I walked past my grocery store, I saw the first blocked off area. Walking closer, I saw the Marathon tents were still set up. Any other year, those would have been taken down by Monday afternoon, but not this year.

At each end of the perimeter there were makeshift memorials set up. People left flowers, notes, stuffed animals, Red Sox hats and various other mementos to honor those who were lost or injured. I’ve visited these three times now. Each time the memorial has grown bigger and bigger, showing the love in this city.

Thursday night I received a similar text to those on Monday: “Please tell me you’re not at MIT right now” with a screenshot of the report there was a live shooter on campus. The text came from my sister, who knows I spend a lot of time with friends at MIT. Thursday night I was up until 3 a.m. watching the situation in Watertown unfold. I woke up at 6:30 a.m. on Friday to learn school had been closed, so I put the coverage right back on.

Gov. Deval Patrick urged all Boston residents to stay inside, so that is what I did. The day was spent glued to the television just waiting for the second suspect to be caught. It will easily go down as one of the longest days of my life.

Finally, while hiding in a boat, just seven miles from my apartment, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was taken into custody. And then, we celebrated.

Hundreds from my campus gathered. I dressed in my green Boston t-shirt and my Red Sox hat. We chanted “USA! USA! USA!” Students thanked Boston Police, asked for pictures with them and cheered loudly anytime a police car would drive by.

April 15 through April 19 was only five days. Five days of fright, of love and of strength.

Looking back, I couldn’t be happier with the city that adopted me back when I was an 18-year-old, wide-eyed freshman. Over the past week, this city has shown togetherness and a compassion I have never seen before. The way everyone has pulled together, within my school and the city as a whole, is something I’ve found to be nothing short of amazing.

I could not be prouder of this city and can say, with no doubt in my mind, that I will forever be Boston Strong.

Brenda Maguire is a senior journalism major at Northeastern University. She is currently working as the Web Editor of The Huntington News and as a freelance correspondent for the Tri County Record. She is currently living in Boston, MA and is originally from Bucks County, PA.

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Are kids all that techno-smart? Maybe not mastery of devices doesn’t translate into understanding

NOTE: The following article was written for a wire service and was published in multiple newspapers and websites across the country. The included The Sacramento Bee, newsobserver.com, and Raleigh News & Observer.

Millennial Youth

The Millennial Generation was born and raised in the digital world. Whether they are checking their Facebook status or running a business on the go, this constantly connected generation has earned the reputation of being the most tech savvy ever.

But are they really?

Continue reading “Are kids all that techno-smart? Maybe not mastery of devices doesn’t translate into understanding”

Cancer Survivor says ‘ditch the dip’ to Twin Valley Middle School students

Photo by Brenda Maguire

By Brenda Maguire
For Journal Register News Service

At the age of 42, Ken Miller had to tell his grandparents, parents and four children that he had been diagnosed with cancer because of one decision he made at the age of 15.

That decision was to chew tobacco with his friends, and it was one small decision which led to 27 years of smokeless tobacco use.

On May 17, the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life had Miller visit Twin Valley Middle School to talk to students about the consequences of chewing tobacco. He shared his experience with throat and tongue cancer. Continue reading “Cancer Survivor says ‘ditch the dip’ to Twin Valley Middle School students”

Keeping His Friends Close: Dylan Owen Talks New EP

By on Jan 9, 2012

In high school, Dylan Owen, a 20-year-old Goshen, NY native, put out his first full-length album called Senioritis. But now, as a sophomore in college, it seems Owen has graduated from writing a “Book Report” in high school, to a more grown-up album, set to drop Jan. 22.

Owen is now working on a free EP titled Keep Your Friends Close. DJ Grumble, Nico Marchese and Kinetics will all be featured alongside Owen on the CD, which is expected to show the young musician in a more mature light than the work he put out on his first record. Owen admitted that he has improved as a rapper since Senioritis was released.

“That’s basically what the album is about. It’s supposed to chronicle me going off to college,” Owen said. “[There’s] definitely a lot of different stuff referring to my life experience over the past year.”

Continue reading “Keeping His Friends Close: Dylan Owen Talks New EP”

Welcome Homecoming: Local soldier returns from Iraq for the holidays

NOTE: Front page story

By Brenda Maguire
For Journal Register News Service

The song says, “There’s no place like home for the holidays,” and this year nobody knows that more than SPC Ricky Geiger, whose deployment in Iraq ended on November 30, just in time to head to, “Pennsylvania for some homemade pumpkin pie.”

“It’s relaxing. It’s nice to just sit down and not be told what to do,” Geiger said, adding, “I can relax and be me and enjoy the time with my wife and my friends.”

“It’s very fortunate because originally he wasn’t supposed to be home until the end of January,” Richard Geiger, Ricky’s father, said. Continue reading “Welcome Homecoming: Local soldier returns from Iraq for the holidays”

Reporter finds every piece of clothing has a warming tale

Photo by Brenda Maguire

By Brenda Maguire

NEW BRITAIN — Over the last 11 weeks, I have written a weekly story tracking the progress of the Warm the Children campaign.

Last week, I had the pleasure of participating as a volunteer shopper.

Ana Torres and I met at the Target on Hartford Road in New Britain to go shopping for her four children: Luis Sanchez, 10, Amarilys Torres, 8, Eliel Colon, 6, and Jazmin Morales, 14.

Torres had been involved in the Warm the Children campaign in the past because of her family’s financial situation.

“It means a lot for me and my children,” she said.

Continue reading “Reporter finds every piece of clothing has a warming tale”

A taste of Appalachia, and not a ‘revenooer’ in sight

By Brenda Maguire

BRISTOL — Whether it’s mixed with soda, on the rocks or poured into hot apple cider with whipped cream and nutmeg on top, Onyx Moonshine appears to be on its way to becoming a popular item in Connecticut.

“It fits with different people and what they like,” said co-founder Adam von Gootkin of Bristol, adding, “It’s so good that you can replace any vodka or whiskey with it.”

About three years ago von Gootkin, 28, and his partner, Peter Kowalczyk, 31, were wondering why there were no Connecticut liquor companies, so they decided to take it upon themselves to create one.

The company, Onyx Spirits Co., located in Manchester, just launched its first product, Onyx Moonshine, about five week ago. In that time the company has sold 1,000 bottles, which is 20 percent of its yearly estimated total.

Continue reading “A taste of Appalachia, and not a ‘revenooer’ in sight”