By Mayor Martin J. Walsh
The coronavirus is unlike anything we’ve experienced in living memory, and it’s testing our city in a way that it’s never been tested before. It has required a major, all-hands-on-deck response, and it has affected every aspect of daily life in Boston. Every day, we are sending our love, our support, and our prayers to everyone who’s battling this terrible illness, and our hearts break for the families who have lost loved ones.
The grief I feel for these families is coupled with an immense sense of pride for our city. The people of Boston have shown bravery, strength, and solidarity with one another since this crisis began. We’ve had to close our schools, postpone some of our most beloved traditions, and ask residents to keep their distance from the people they love the most.
I know that these changes have been very difficult for many people. But I’m not hearing complaints; the overwhelming reaction has been support and cooperation.
People are focused on protecting their fellow Bostonians, especially the most vulnerable among us. People understand that the measures we’re taking, no matter how drastic they may feel, will save lives. That is our top priority, and the people of Boston have rallied around it. I’ve seen people, businesses, and organizations stepping up and doing the right thing. I’ve seen wonderful acts of kindness. And I’ve seen people of all ages showing what it means to be Boston strong.
In the face of challenges like this one, our city shows its true colors. We are a resilient city of resilient people. That’s reflected in our strong neighborhoods, in our enduring traditions, and in the way we govern at the local level.
The fact is, we’ve been strengthening Boston’s ability to respond to a crisis like this for years. We’ve built deep connections between city government, neighborhood leaders, community groups, and the faith community. We’ve built up one of the strongest shelter and healthcare networks for homeless individuals in the country. We’ve made city services more accessible, in more languages, across a variety of platforms.
We’ve helped more people get connected with affordable internet. And we’ve worked to close equity gaps to make sure that more people have access to stable housing and financial safety nets. All of these things have allowed us to act swiftly, get people the information they need, and soften the blow that this public health crisis is having on our communities, our economy, and people’s lives. To me, this is the definition of resilience. It means planning ahead, and building connections before we need them, so that we can adapt to any challenge that we face.
We’ve got a long road ahead of us. Even after we overcome the immediate threat to people’s health, there will be a long economic recovery, to get our local businesses and their hard-working employees back on their feet. We will need to be flexible, and work together to get daily life back to normal. And we will continue to grieve, together as a City, for the lives lost. Many families are experiencing incredible shock and sadness right now. We all need to give them the time and the space to mourn their loved ones, with the full support of their city behind them.
My hope is that when we get through this, we will have a new appreciation for all the things we hold dear. I hope that we will never again take simple joys and freedoms for granted.
Normally, this is one of the best times of the year in Boston. Any other year, we’d be getting ready to welcome athletes and fans from all over the world for the Boston Marathon. We’d be celebrating the home opener at Fenway Park.
We’d be holding the first of our annual coffee hours in neighborhood parks across the city. Kids and families would be enjoying the warm weather and all the festivities that come with the end of the school year.
When we get through this, and return to these traditions, it will be a cause for celebration. Each of us will have a renewed opportunity to embrace the things that make Boston the greatest city in the world. This is a defining moment in our history that will inspire new strength and resilience. I think it will inspire a new sense of what makes us Bostonians, and what makes us all family. That’s what gives me hope, and that’s what drives me, every day, to lead our City through this.
Martin J. Walsh is the Mayor of Boston