Joye Brown Newsday columnist Joye Brown

Joye Brown has been a columnist for Newsday since 2006. She joined the newspaper in 1983 and has

The Boston Marathon lost its innocence Monday to a coward who appeared to aim not at the athletes, but at the men, women and children cheering them on.

Two bombs, apparently placed in trash cans after security sweeps by police and bomb-sniffing dogs, went off seconds apart on sidewalks along either side of an avenue leading up to the finish line.

In an instant, chaos replaced celebration. More than 130 spectators were injured, and at least three people died.

It is a testament to the spirit of Boston's marathon -- to the best of what keeps us human in the face of continuing terrorist acts -- that so many rescue workers, race volunteers, athletes and spectators rushed in to help.

Was this terrorism?

Absolutely. It was an attack in the heart of one of the nation's founding cities, occurring on Patriots Day, a holiday in Massachusetts commemorating the opening battles of the Revolutionary War.

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It was a planned bombing at a sporting event that had brought hundreds of thousands of people together.

Initial reports indicated that cellular service was cut off on the chance that phones could be used to detonate bombs that officials had yet to discover.

"It is an ongoing event," Boston police Commissioner Edward Davis said at a news conference.

The possibility that there could have been more coming was chilling. So was Davis' request that visitors stay in their hotel rooms, and that people on the streets avoid gathering in large groups. A lively community of runners, along with friends and family, was separated at a time when they needed each other's support.

There is much left for local, state and federal investigators to determine, including the why behind a deranged decision to strike during an event meant to celebrate the best of humanity -- rather than showcase the worst.


"This is a horrific day in Boston," said Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

It was a horrific day for the nation, too.