Each U.S. city has its defining characteristic. DC is about politics. New York is about business. Los Angeles is about entertainment. And Boston? Well, Boston is a little different. Boston's characteristic is passion. A wicked big tidal wave of it.
In Boston, there's 600,000 people -- just 1/13th the size of New York City. But we're a freaking loud and passionate 600,000 that has created a community identity like no other. The American revolution began in our streets. Our spirit to better ourselves and others fuels world-class hospitals and schools. Boston is home to the most determined and fanatic sports fans. We're proud of our accents, our chowder, our dirty water, and most of all, our Marathon.
The Boston Marathon is a happy day in the city of Boston -- perhaps the happiest day of the year. Schools and businesses close, and a mass of people flock to the streets to cheer on complete strangers in an amazing symbol of human kindness and community, that has to be seen to believe. I should know. In the 4 times I've run through the streets on Patriots Day, I've been overwhelmed by the generosity of people who gave me water, food, a shout of encouragement, a high-five, and even just a big smile. Last year, it was 90 degrees on Marathon Monday, and Bostonians were out in droves, using their own hoses to cool off passing runners. Needless to say, it's an inherent part of who we are.
Before joining HuffPost I served as an Advisor to Mayor Tom Menino, a symbol of Boston in himself. Mayor Menino embodies our ruthlessly passionate spirit -- a man who wakes up everyday at 4:30 AM to spend his days with the citizens of his community -- uniting our 21 neighborhoods, one handshake at a time (it has widely been reported that he has met more than half of Boston's residents). His example is reflected in all of us, illustrated by the countless citizens who rushed to help victims of the explosion and opened up their homes to complete strangers.
We will never understand why anyone would want to commit such tragedy. But there's one thing that's clear -- they won't mess with our Marathon. Bostonians will never allow it. Next year, the runners will be even more determined, and the crowds will be larger. It's in our spirit -- and it's unbreakable.
Boston is pride. Boston is passion. Boston is forever. And no tragedy, however unspeakable, will ever change the deep honor to say these words: I am from Boston.
Daniel Arrigg Koh is Chief of Staff to Arianna Huffington. He is a proud Bostonian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org