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Martin's Park
Author: TriSec    Date: 06/15/2019 10:07:54

On April 15, 2013, Boylston Square in Boston was devastated by a terrorist attack.

There were three immediate fatalities.

Three people were killed in the bombing. Krystle Marie Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager from Medford, Massachusetts, was killed by the first bomb. Lü Lingzi, a 23-year-old Chinese national and Boston University statistics graduate student from Shenyang, Liaoning, and 8-year old Martin William Richard from the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, were killed by the second bomb.

It's taken this city six years to figure out how to honor those victims. At long last, small memorial columns are taking shape at the specific sites where those bombs went off near the marathon finish line.

But today - the centerpiece of the city's memorial is scheduled to be dedicated at a prime location on the city's waterfront, right next to the Children's Museum. Sounds like a weird place for a memorial, right?

The innovative and inclusive children’s playground named for the youngest Boston Marathon bombing victim, 8-year-old Martin Richard, opens to the public Saturday.

After two years of construction, the accessible Martin’s Park next to the South Boston waterfront and the Boston Children’s Museum is officially complete. The Richard family will join Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker for a formal opening ceremony in the Boston Seaport on Saturday morning.

The nearly $13 million playground at 64 Sleeper Street, funded mainly by private donations, is no ordinary outdoor space.

The creative minds behind the project designed a landscape that appears both urban and wild, suitable for all children at one of the city’s beautiful waterfront locations. At an event last year, Senior Associate Chris Donahue of design firm Michael Van Valkenburg, described the playground as having “a sort of landmark quality" in the city of Boston.

Bill and Denise Richard founded the Richard Foundation in January 2014, after their 8-year-old son Martin was killed in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing attacks, and their 6-year-old daughter Jane lost her leg. It became difficult for Jane to watch others play in a way she could not.

But children like Jane will now have their own place to play, since Martin’s Park is accessible to any person or child with a disability, with wheelchair-accessible hills and platforms that defy norms of other inclusive playgrounds.

All children can enjoy the features of the park, which include “gizmos and gadgets” geared toward various sensory experiences, as well as a large play-ship modeled after a design at the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in London. Other playground features include a bridge, a basket swing, several slides, a timber maze and various shrubbery.

The Richards took an active role in planning the park’s layout, and have said one of their favorite components is a spherical-shaped metal and rope climber.

In the aftermath of the tragic events that unfolded, a photo of Martin holding a handmade sign that read “No More Hurting People, Peace” went viral. His message is carried on by his family and the foundation, which promotes a motto, “Choose kindness.”

A message from the Bill, Denise, Henry and Jane Richard expressed the family’s hope that Martin’s Park brings “hours of joy to children” and is considered a favorite playground by its visitors.

“Growing up in Dorchester, Martin spent much of his time playing with Henry, Jane and their friends at many of the fields and playgrounds throughout the city," the family said in a statement. “Martin’s Park will be a symbol of Martin’s welcoming, inclusive nature as well as his idea of an ideal park. This unique, public, outdoor space will ensure that Martin’s legacy remains a vibrant and positive influence for future generations.”

I had mused the other day that we'll be 'celebrating' the 20th anniversary of 9-11 under the next president's watch. What has 20 years gotten us there?

It may have been a glacial pace to build a memorial for such a seminal event in this city, but I'll be the first to say we got it right. While it will be somber, Boston will truly celebrate the life of this young man - and it's hoped that his name will live on and the impact he made during his brief time here on earth shall not be forgotten.


1 comments (Latest Comment: 06/16/2019 15:41:27 by Will in Chicago)
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