At 2:49 p.m. on April 15, 2013, two pressure-cooker bombs exploded near the finish line of the world-famous Boston Marathon on Boylston Street, both within seconds of one another and happening about 100 yards apart.
The back-to-back bombings killed three, injured more than 260 people and sent one of America’s biggest cities into a state of fear and uncertainty as police launched a chaotic multi-day manhunt for who was responsible. Busy city streets were empty. Red Sox games canceled. News stations carried wall-to-wall coverage.
Four days later, that search came to a dramatic end when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was taken into custody by Boston police shortly after his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in an overnight shootout.
Boston Globe photographer John Tlumacki shot some of the most dramatic images of the bombings, including the iconic photograph of three Boston Police Department officers — Rachel McGuire, Kevin McGill and Javier Pagan — and 78-year-old runner Bill Iffrig, who was knocked to the ground by the first blast. The image was featured on the front page of newspapers across the world and came to symbolize both the utter terror of that day, as well as the resilience and determination of the city after the tragedy.
Ten years later, here is a look back at the 2013 Boston Marathon and John Tlumacki’s fateful photograph, as told to CNN by some of the people who lived it.
Editor’s note: This article contains graphic descriptions of violence. Quotes have been edited by CNN for clarity and length.
Boston Globe photographer
Tlumacki: I usually do the Boston Marathon every year. I was always at the finish line at ground level. It’s one of those things that we cover as a group of photographers at the Globe. We try to have as much manpower as we can to produce the most images. My day began around 6 o’clock knowing that I had to be in position by 10 o’clock. I remember it was a beautiful day. I was carrying all my equipment, checking in and going through security.
Boston Police Commissioner from 2006 to 2013
Davis: The marathon is a big day for us in Boston. I got up early and got in there. I actually brought my wife and the children of one of my buddies. We went into the VIP stands and got them set up to watch the race. I spoke to the security people there, the officer in charge of the detail and I spoke to a number of people who were involved, doing things like the bomb sweep that we did at 6 a.m. There are bomb dogs that walk up the racecourse from Gloucester Street all the way to the finish line at 6 a.m. to make sure there are no explosive devices there. And then we do that again after the crowd is in place. All of those systems are in place.
Governor of Massachusetts from 2007 to 2015
Patrick: The Boston Marathon is rightly described as a sort of regional block party. People come from all over the world. The official role of the governor is to crown the so-called elite female winner. The mayor typically crowns the elite male winner. Mayor Menino, who was mayor at the time, and I had done this together for seven years. But that day, he was in the hospital, and he asked if I would crown both the male and female runners.
Tlumacki: When the elite runners are crossing the finish line, the winners break the tape — the men’s and the women’s — and before that, it’s the people in wheelchairs. That happens pretty early, around noon you get the winners. I would file the photos of the winners, and then go back to the finish line to get more runners coming across. These are the people from all over the world who run in the marathon. So, I’m shooting that; I’m shooting spectators; I’m shooting the features of people cheering and just kind of wandering around the finish line area.
Davis: We had pickpockets in the crowd the year before. We were on the lookout for those and, of course, any other potential security issues that popped up. Usually, we deal with two security details. In this case, it was just the governor’s details that day. He came in and left without any kind of incident. So, it’s a lot of people, a lot of security concerns, over 800 cops just on the Boston side of things, plus our partners from the MBTA and the state police and all the other various agencies, including the National Guard.
Son of Bill Iffrig, the runner featured in Tlumacki’s
Iffrig: My dad came from Washington to run the race, and he went out there with my mom. My dad was a robust 78-year-old. My mom was waiting in the hotel room, and I knew she was there, so I called to talk to her while the race was going on.
Davis: After the elite runners come across and get their award, the marathon goes from an international sporting event to a local race. It’s more of a neighborhood kind of thing, a city kind of thing. After we got the governor out, I talked to a couple of officers as I was leaving.
A nurse who volunteered to work the 2013 finish line
Heffernan: I started volunteering at the Boston Marathon in 2010. It was just a chosen few of us at the finish line who do it every year. This year was no different. You get up, and you know you’re going to be in for a 12-hour day volunteering. Being an advanced amateur photographer myself, I’m always intrigued by the photographers. I was sort of drawn to John Tlumacki, to be honest with you, just watching him shoot and take his pictures. Sometimes I talked to him about it, but I just watched his eye for what he was seeing. I got to know him over the years, and I would see him each year at the marathon.
The Boston Marathon’s finish line coordinator since 1996
Meagher: I had gone up to the platform where the computers and speaker systems were because I was looking for two runners. When I came off the platform, I was ready to turn right and go down to the side of the street when one of my security people grabbed me and said, “Tom, there’s a camera man over there who shouldn’t be there.” That conversation took about 15 to 25 seconds.
Patrick: For me, it was a pretty unusual day in the sense that I didn’t have other appointments; I could leave and did soon after that. I think I went and got a haircut, and I got a workout, and I was heading home to our home in Milton, which is just south of the city. My family was away, my wife was out of town, and I was looking forward to having a little time alone in the garden, when I got a call from our youngest daughter who was in Back Bay, about a block or two away from the finish line, and heard “a big boom” as she described it and everybody running.
Tlumacki: I was literally standing on the finish line, and I was ready for a runner to come across. I had my wide-angle lens like I normally would be shooting, and as that bomb went off, I felt it. It was just the loudest thing. I don’t know how to describe it, but maybe like somebody taking a baseball bat and just smashing an empty barrel next to your face. It’s that loud percussion. And my body felt it, I felt jolted by it. Instinctively, I just shot whatever happened in front of me. And that runner, Bill Iffrig, fell to the ground in front of me and the three Boston police officers reacted to him, but at that same time, the second bomb went off two blocks down the street on Boylston Street. I guess you could describe it as pandemonium, and nobody was really sure what had happened. I wasn’t sure. I kind of thought maybe it was a manhole cover exploding because they sometimes do in Boston, from steam. And looking over to my right, I was very close to that first bomb. I just remember this blue haze that hung over me like a fog on Boylston Street. And then I smelled it, and it smelled like fireworks.
Meagher: To this day, I wonder, had I not stopped and talked to that individual and walked down the street, would I have been that much closer to the bomb going off 20 yards away? As I turned away from that individual, I saw this blast and a gentleman got knocked down. When I got there, I realized he didn’t have any wounds at all. The gentleman who took the picture took another picture and I happened to be in it. The interesting part of the picture is that you can actually see the orange glow of the second bomb going off in the distance. I took half a step forward because my inclination was to try to help, but then I caught myself when I saw the National Guardsmen and the police tearing down the snow fence to get at the people. That’s when I turned my attention to the sidewalk. I stood there and got out my phone and put a call out to my wife. There was no answer, so I left a message: “Just please tell my daughters that I’m okay.”
Iffrig: From my dad’s side of things and how he would tell it — the noise was so loud; he was knocked down to the ground. He lay there and the cops ran up, but they didn’t really help my dad. They were busy trying to look for what was going on. One of the race officials came over to my dad and helped my dad up and together they walked over the finish line.
Heffernan: In the moment when it happened, we weren’t sure what it was. We thought a transformer blew or something. You just don’t think bomb. The husband of one of the volunteers was a firefighter, and he looked at all of us and said, “That’s a bomb. That’s the smell of sulfur.”
Davis: The phone rang almost immediately, and it was my chief of department Daniel Linskey, who oversaw security. Linskey said to me, “Commissioner, we have two explosions at the finish line.” And I said to him, “Are they electrical, Danny?” His answer to me really made the hairs stand up on the back of my head because he said that Danny Keeler, who is one of our most experienced sergeants, “is screaming for all the ambulances he can get and talking about multiple amputations.”
Tlumacki: I just ran to the barricades and the police were trying to rip them down, and as that haze cleared, I could look onto the sidewalk right in front of me and I saw the real carnage. I saw bodies and body parts in front of me. I went onto the sidewalk and starting shooting.
Patrick: I got a call from first a state police trooper and then the head of Massachusetts Emergency Management Authority, who was down at the finish line and with whom we had managed any number of emergencies. I knew him to be exceedingly competent and calm, always. And it’s the first time I’d ever heard him sound really shaken. He said to me, “Governor, I’m down here at the finish line. There’s been at least one, maybe two explosions. Maybe it was a manhole cover, we’re not sure. But there are body parts all over Boylston Street. It is a mess. I think you better get down here.”
Heffernan: It became a crime scene immediately. I remember yellow tape going up and the barricades being let down so people could get through to help. So, we backed off and let the ambulance get through. When I saw people being hurt, we were trying to figure out what to do because the crime tape went up and they didn’t want people coming through. It was an eerie silence. I mean, there were ambulances and all that, but it was quiet. We couldn’t go in to help, they were only bringing people out. Seeing people come out in wheelchairs and whatnot was troubling because you realize the magnitude and the tragedy of it all. My immediate thought was, “What can we do?” So, then, we were just trying to help people who were walking around looking for their loved ones.
Tlumacki: I looked around me and there were no other photographers I could see. So, I went into another mode: “This is history. This is terrorism. This is something I have to be here to photograph.” I didn’t know if it was terrorism, but I kind of thought it could have been when a Boston police officer said to me, “You shouldn’t be here. Another bomb could go off.” I looked at him and we had that communication with our eyes. I knew what the consequences were going to be if there was another bomb, but I felt it was my duty to just keep shooting. I think what motivated me the most was the anger I felt once I figured it out. I mean, look at all those people — they were there watching loved ones running in the marathon and they’re blown up. Their legs are blown off, their feet are blown off. I felt so angry at who could have done this.
Davis: I knew that I was in for a tragedy, to be quite honest with you. I was able to get my driver going and we were on the racecourse in maybe 10, or 12 minutes. I was thinking, “Are we going to get hit? Is this just one incident or are we facing multiple issues?”
Patrick: I remember how little we knew. We look back at it now and say: two guys, two bombs, two terrorists identified and dealt with in about 100 hours, which is extraordinary. But in fact, we didn’t know how extensive it was. We were constantly having to give press conferences and respond to questions, the answers to which we did not know.
Davis: I saw the damage had gone up two stories, so this was a very powerful device. Seeing where it was and knowing the crowds that were there, I realized that this was going to be a mass casualty event. And then I thought about the fact that they got by us. When you’re responsible for the security of an event like that, you have a personal responsibility to not let anything like this happen, so a little bit of uneasiness settles in and you think, “Damn, what did we do wrong?”
Patrick: There were body parts and indeed three bodies, one of which was a child’s, on Boylston Street. There was blood all over the place, there was property destruction, and there were bits and pieces of shrapnel from these homemade bombs found on the roofs of buildings across the street from where they went off. It was a mess.
Tlumacki: As I was shooting, there was a horrific scene of Krystle Campbell. I just remember photographing her and she was in a terrible way. She was still alive and hugging her best friend who was lying next to her. And Krystle was just bleeding out. I just remember photographing a Boston police officer who was wearing these pink medical gloves and she leaned over, and she put two fingers on her neck to check her pulse. She kept doing that and doing that and then I just saw Krystle’s eyes shut. I’ll always have the memory of that moment. It always really bothers me. And those are the photos that I will never let anybody see. I just feel that was like the ultimate horror of that terrorism.
Meagher: One of the things I do remember very vividly is that after a short period of time, a gurney came out and there were three EMTs. One was pushing, one was pulling, and one was administering CPR as rapidly as I’ve ever seen. And I said to myself, “She’s dead.” And she was. It was Krystle Campbell.
Tlumacki: Usually you look in the back of your camera because it’s digital and you can see right away if you have that photo. But I didn’t look at my camera. I didn’t look until I left the marathon to see if I had any photos. I just kept shooting and shooting. In a way, I didn’t want to take my face away from my camera.
Davis: When I got to the scene, we drove down Ring Road and my driver stopped the car. There was a lot of activity at this one place at the intersection of Ring Road and Boylston Street. As I stepped down on the ground, I could feel shrapnel under my feet. That’s when my worst fears became true because I realized that someone had built an improvised explosive device to kill and maim people. And then as I rounded the fender of the car, I looked over and the bodies of Lingzi Lu and Martin Richard were on the ground. And that was the first time I realized that there were fatalities, that we’d lost people. The whole incident fell on me like a ton of bricks right there.
Patrick: It was extraordinary. In getting around to visit the injured and their families in the hospitals and the hospital staff, one of the things that I tried to do was spend time with medical staff, but also spend time with folks who were cleaning up the blood and mess and the severed limbs. They never experienced anything like this either. It touched everybody.
Iffrig: I hung up with my mom and saw that my dad had finished the race. I switched over to Facebook and somebody said something about a bomb in Boston, so I immediately called my mom back and my dad had just stepped through the door. I said, “Dad, were you impacted by that bomb?” And my dad is a very even guy. He’s not very excitable, no big ups and no big downs. He says to me in the most matter of fact way: “Oh yeah, I got knocked to the ground. But I finished with a four-hour, four-minute marathon.” I thought everybody got knocked down by the bomb because he made it sound so blasé. I don’t think he realized fully what had happened. I went to the news and the first thing I saw was a video of this guy getting knocked down by the bomb, and it’s my dad. I called him back and said, “Dad! You were right next to the bomb! You are so lucky.” It probably dawned on him how lucky he was. He was so close to that thing.
Davis: I ran down to the scene of the first blast where I had been just an hour earlier and the volume of blood there was remarkable. The blast damage was even heavier there. It went up three stories. When I say the volume of blood was remarkable, I’ve been to homicide scenes, motor vehicle crashes, and mass events, I worked in a hospital for years. But seeing that volume of blood on the ground made me realize we were going to have large numbers of people injured. It was just a horror show.
Patrick: There were thousands of photographs and videos that people took and shared with law enforcement that enabled the teams to identify not just where the bombs came from, but who the actual bombers were. We saw them put those bombs down. There was some debate about making the identities and the photographs of the bombers known to the public. That was a decision that was brought to me. It was not so much for me a question of whether to do so, but when.
Davis: I was completely cognizant of the fact that we didn’t have these guys in custody. Chances are they didn’t blow themselves up, that they were on the run, and they could very well be planning a second attack in the hours, days, weeks following and so that led to a sense of urgency. My singular focus was on the investigation and making sure we were able to get these guys before they hurt anyone else.
Patrick: We were going to be careful not to risk inflaming people so that every person who had a foreign-sounding name got swept up in the effort by everybody to respond to this terrorist attack and this terrible tragedy. We stayed focused on the facts; we focused on the identity of who was actually involved. I think there was real restraint that was shown. When the surviving bomber was located and arrested, we had an awful lot of heat in Watertown. A very, very high level of agita. And yet, when he was wheeled out on a gurney and put in the ambulance and taken away, officers held their fire, they held their attitudes, they stayed professional. This was a demonstration of extraordinary restraint, under extraordinary circumstances.
Tlumacki: I moved along and took photos of Nicole Gross, and she has this horrific look on her face. Her red shirt is just tattered with shrapnel and she’s just lying in a pool of blood. Then I saw Jeffrey Bauman and he’s pretty much on fire and people are trying to put out his smoldering clothes. It was like those types of scenes, and I just had to shoot. I tried to be sensitive to what was going on, but how could you be? I felt like there were so many heroic people there that were saving people’s lives.
Patrick: I think the very first surgery was like eight or nine minutes after the first bomb went off. There were a couple hundred serious injuries that would otherwise, under many circumstances, have resulted in death. But the hospital community and the emergency responders were brilliant, and they triaged beautifully, and everybody got to the surgery theater that was right for them, and we lost not a single other life than those who were killed instantly at the finish line. And that was a remarkable thing.
Former deputy director of photography at The Boston Globe
Chapin: I’m in charge of the schedule for the Globe’s photo department and one of the roles that I took upon myself is professional sports coverage, big events like the Boston Marathon. Usually, I would place John on the ground at the finish line and David at the finish line, but on the bridge in an upper position. I remember when it happened, I was frantic because I wanted to make sure they were OK. Then I saw a live feed of John running to where the first bombing happened, then an hour or two later, David came into the newsroom holding a BB that came from the pressure cooker that hit his laptop.
Tlumacki: I walked through thousands of people who were like zombies. They didn’t know what was going on. I had to get back to my car because I knew I had to get those photos out. I called Kim and I said I was all right. I was on my way back. I drove about 10 minutes to the Globe office. I just remember walking back into the photo department, setting up my computer and I looked down at my slip-on leather shoes. They were covered with blood. I took them off and I was kind of embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to see them, so I slipped them under my desk. Now, I’m a professional photographer. I can’t let my guard down; I can’t just sit there and cry. I sat there for a couple of hours and sent in dozens of photos. I came across really bad photos. Horrific photos. The first photo that I thought captured that moment and was useable was the picture of the three police officers and Bill Iffrig. I just remember thinking, “Oh my god, it’s in focus.” And that was it.
Chapin: When John finally came to the newsroom, I gave him a hug and said, “Go back into the photo room, go through your images and call me when you’re ready.” We went through all of the images and at the time, we didn’t know that some of these people were dead. It was just carnage everywhere. I was a Page 1 print photo editor, so once John and I selected the photos to be considered in the paper, he moved the photos to our system.
Tlumacki: While I was sending my photos, they were being put on Getty and that’s how they got to CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post right away. Within minutes, Sports Illustrated saw that photo and said they wanted a high-resolution version, which they put on the cover. Nothing really hit me like, “Oh my god, I can’t take it.” It wasn’t like that. I don’t know why. I look back and wonder, why didn’t I just break down and not be able to do it? But I think I felt that I needed to do my job.
Chapin: At the time that an event happens, we go into the mode of doing our job. We just look at the images and we pick the images that we feel tell the story. John and I were looking at photos of Krystle Campbell who died. We didn’t pick those photos because it was so bad. Because it gets to a point where it’s just too grotesque, so we’re not going to show it. But then you have a day or two and you think about it. And I think about what we went through. For John, I can’t imagine because he was there in person and I’m just seeing what he was shooting.
Tlumacki: I started getting calls on my phone from CNN, Fox, Polish television — they figured out I was Polish — from ABC, NBC and CBS. They asked, “Can you go on live and talk about what happened? We have your photos.” I was deluged by all the media. I just remember walking out of the photo department and Kim said, “Do what you have to do.” I kind of felt like I left the Globe and then it was part two of that journey to go back near the finish line. I just remember parking there and all the live shots were set up and the lights were set up. I was wiped out, but I felt like they really needed somebody to talk to about it. I must have done like ten interviews that night. Going through all that and editing and then being on television describing every little detail of what I just did really burned those images in my head. I could draw that photo of the three cops and Bill without even looking at it now. It’s burnt into my brain forever.
Iffrig: It took about 30, maybe 45 minutes before the calls started coming in. My dad did a lot of interviews with the networks and relayed what had happened. He was a very even guy and I think he was real matter of fact when he got on TV. I heard somebody say something about a blue-collar guy — he was a blue-collar guy — and he kind of came across that way. Then the famous picture came out and ended up on Sports Illustrated.
Chapin: We did look at the three officers and the runner down, but when we placed it on Page 1, it looked too quiet. So, I picked this other photo that was eventually Page 1. When we first ran it, when it was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, it told a story, but it didn’t heighten what was going on with the bombing. Even though it tells the story, it is not entirely the scope of what was going on there. And I think that’s why we switched to where we need to show the bloodshed.
Davis: The next morning, I saw the photo when it was published. I remarked about the fact that this was a moment of terrible chaos, but our officers were springing into action. Nobody ran away. It makes me proud that the three officers not only did what they were trained to do, but they showed the courage and fortitude to react immediately and to wade into danger without even thinking about it. You can tell that from the photo.
Heffernan: When I saw that photo, it told me the tragedy of the day. This was a huge, huge photo from a photo journalistic perspective. It brings you back to a difficult time, but it depicted exactly what was happening at that moment. It shows the quick reaction of our officers.
Meagher: My first reaction to that photo was: “I was there to see that.” It kept getting replayed over and over again. When I first took this job, my oldest daughter said to me, “Dad, you got to have mom tape you on TV so when you get home you can replay it.” To this day, I have never seen myself on TV at the finish line of the Boston Marathon with one exception — the year 2013.
Tlumacki: It is a symbolically perfect photo of an event that doesn’t show blood and guts. It doesn’t show suffering; it doesn’t show blood and gore and traumatized people. But it shows, in one photograph, something horrific had happened. Look at these three Boston police officers, not flinching, but reacting. Bombs have gone off. The street is filled with blue hazy smoke and its chaos. And they don’t know if another bomb is gonna go off and they’re reacting the way they are supposed to react. And that’s Boston Strong. And that became the symbolic picture of Boston Strong, whether it’s sanitized or not. But it’s a picture that you can keep looking at.
Patrick: In a way, it’s the face of terror, isn’t it? You see the shock on everybody’s face. It still frankly astonishes me that the photographer had the presence of mind to capture that photograph. It was an active incident when that photograph was taken. But you do see people trying to help other people. And that, ultimately, is what it’s about. If I’m looking to the positive in that photograph, it’s affirming that in the face of that terror, people were still trying to do their best for each other.
Tlumacki: As a photographer, you treat your camera as an extension of yourself. In a strange way, I always pride myself on that photograph as being technically masterful, if there is such a word. It’s perfect in a way because it has everything in it. It has every element of that moment. It shows the blue haze, it shows the runner on the ground, it shows debris on Boylston Street and the reaction of three Boston police officers.
Iffrig: I remember right afterwards, my dad said, “That photo is so amazing. It’s like it’s staged.” He was blown away by that. How I think about it is that photo is just a symbol of what happened and because of that photo, for a short period of time, my dad was kind of a symbol for what happened.
Tlumacki: Bill was so grateful I made that photograph of him, in a different way than the three police officers were. It made him become a spokesperson for what happened that day and he could explain it to everyone, including children.
Heffernan: I saw John at other events in Boston and we’d give each other a big hug. Of course, I always see him at the marathon, and I text him frequently. I thought it was incredible he had the bandwidth and the forethought to take these historical photos. It was bravery and to be honest with you, that’s his job mode. His job was to document the marathon — good or bad.
Tlumacki: You just let your camera do the work and sooner or later you hit a wall. That didn’t happen to me until that night. I remember driving home in those same shoes covered with blood. I got to the front door around 11 o’clock at night and my wife and I hugged like we never hugged before. I just didn’t know what to do — I didn’t want to eat, I just sat down and tried to describe to her what had happened. I couldn’t sleep at all that night.
Chapin: It’s a day where I feel that our coverage of the marathon was dead on in our profession. It’s a reminder that at any point, at any time, something tragic can happen in our own backyard. And John, as a professional, covered it so well under the terms of what he was seeing. I’m leaving the Globe and I asked him if he could give me that print and sign it so I can hang it on my wall in my new office because it’s a reminder that, that shot, out of all of it, is the quiet moment.
Patrick: In a way, we showed to each other that we understood what it meant to be a single community where we turn to each other rather than on each other, and I think that’s the part that endures beyond the extraordinary shock and chaos that is captured by that extraordinary photograph.
Tlumacki: I went back the next day and photographed the aftermath of the marathon. There was a makeshift memorial set up near the finish line on another street and they had three white crosses with the names of the people who were killed. I went into the trunk of my car and got out that yellow bib I wore that day and put it in front of Krystle Campbell’s cross, took a knee and cried. I knew that of any trigger that was going to trigger me, it was going to be her. It still gets me choked up to think about it. That’s a difficult one for me.
Davis: I called Danny Keeler, the sergeant who was right there when the second bomb went off, and he was with Tommy Barrett. I talked to maybe six or seven other cops because I was inquiring as to their psychological health, how they were handling it. But Barrett had me on the phone for almost an hour and it was like a whole psychological dump of what happened. He was just venting. I thought, “Jeez, this really affected this kid. This was worse than I thought.” In dealing with some of the longer, more experienced officers, this kid was really opening up. It was an indication that we needed to do something special on the psychological side.
Heffernan: Afterwards, the Boston Athletic Association organized an event for post-traumatic stress, and it was unbelievable. They had therapy dogs, and a speaker who talked about trauma in war zones and how people deal with it. Some people were crying, some had therapy dogs and others were just talking about it. They organized it right away. It was for people to vent, come back into Boston and talk about it with professionals on hand. I saw how many people were traumatized.
Tlumacki: There are so many people who slipped under the radar who weren’t injured and who were there that day. There were hundreds of children. They were in the VIP stands; their families were running. There were spectators on Boylston Street who heard the two blasts and felt them. Literally, thousands of people’s lives and emotional well-being were affected by those two bombings. It doesn’t matter if you lost a leg or were injured, people take that event differently and can handle it differently. I know some people who, 10 years down the road, are still having difficulty comprehending that day and have to go through therapy because of it. And those are the lingering effects 10 years later.
Chapin: As a boss, I ask them every year after the bombing when I’m ready for the coverage and looking at the photographers to cover the marathon. For other photographers, I just put them on. But those two [John and David], I ask them every year if they want to cover it because I feel they do have PTSD. But PTSD, you never know. It comes and goes. And I’m aware of that, so that’s why I ask them. They are the only two I ask every year if they want to cover it or not. And obviously, I’m okay if they say no.
Tlumacki: Until two years ago, I kept all of those photos on my laptop. And every once in a while, when I was having a really bad day or the marathon was coming up, I would look at those photos. You just kind of pinch yourself and say, “Well, I was there.” Even when the bomber was on trial in federal court in Boston, I kept looking back at those photos.
Davis: This particular anniversary is a big anniversary. There are a number of memorials I’ve been invited to and there are a number of talks I’m doing around the city. Over the years, I’ve been to the finish line two times after this incident and greeted the runners and talked to the people, especially the amputees that decided to come back and run the race and others who decided they were going to run this race because their families were adversely affected by it. But that day, April 15th, is always a special day. I’m running a business now, so there are times when I’m out of town on the 15th. But I will never forget that day.
Tlumacki: The anniversary will happen on April 15, but the actual marathon this year is on the 17th. It’s not a day to celebrate for everybody, it’s a day to remember, to think about what happened, to think about other events that were terrorism — all those mass shootings at schools and nightclubs. I’m working marathon day this year and every year they lay a wreath of white roses at the site of the bombing. There will probably be a moment of silence during the exact time of the bombing, and they ring church bells, which gets emotional. It won’t be another day. It will be the 10th year anniversary, and after that, I’ll look forward to the day after. Life will go on.
Iffrig: When my parents moved out of their house, my dad had to get rid of a lot of his running stuff. He kept a daily record of his runs for 40 years and kept just a handful of ribbons and trophies that were important to him. He keeps a framed copy of that photo in his room in the memory care facility. And even now, every once in a while, somebody will bring it up. He doesn’t understand so much now, but he still kind of lights up a little bit when they’re talking about it.
Tlumacki: I never really saw his face, just his body crumpled on the ground at my feet. The last time I saw Bill Iffrig was when he fell hard on to Boylston Street near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013. I never saw Bill again until I flew nearly 2,500 miles on April 3 to Marysville, Washington to photograph him. This time it was on our terms. It meant so much to me to photograph Bill under different circumstances. In the time spent shooting and listening and talking, I felt that I had come full circle as the tenth anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing approached. It was such a long journey to take such a simple photograph of an inspirational man.
Heffernan: John and I talk to each other intimately each year. I watch him do his thing but never bother him. He’s at work, I’m at work, but I’m watching him quietly do his job. Every year, I look forward to working the finish line. We tell each other, “See you next year!” Was I traumatized? Yes. Is it going to have me not come back? No, I wouldn’t go to work every day if that were the case. I love doing it. Each year is better. I’m going to go in with the same positive attitude, the same resilience. We’re going to volunteer our time to help people make their dreams come true to run a marathon and be there in the best spirit we can and cheer them on. And never forget.
Tlumacki: I find my strength through other people. The key to Boston’s survival was community, through Boston Strong. People still walk around the city wearing those shirts. It’s become iconic with that whole moment in time when we came together, united as a city. The photograph I took was just the tip of the iceberg of that whole period of time in Boston. Ten years later, you can still find those T-shirts being printed. People still have them; survivors still have them.
Meagher: It’s etched in my soul. I typically don’t need to have anybody tell me what I did that day or how great I was that day. I don’t need that in my life. I know what I did. I know I did it to the best of my ability. There were a lot of people who were calling me a hero and I had a hard time with that for a while because I don’t consider myself a hero. I just did what I was supposed to do.
Iffrig: It’s kind of nice that all this stuff has been documented because my dad went through those 15 minutes of fame because of that picture. And so, as we lose a little bit more of him all the time, we at least have something to go back to that probably most people don’t have with their parents. I was up there yesterday having coffee with him, and I told him CNN called. His response was, “Oh yeah, I bet.”
Tlumacki: My camera and my lens that I used that day are the passengers in my car. I’m probably going to use that same camera this year because it’s superstitious, but I feel obliged to do it as part of that whole beginning and end process. And I want it to go through another finish line 10 years later. It’s a family of people who were there. It’s not like I’m going to shake their hand — you just hug people. The people who were there, the people who remember it. Even the police commissioner at the time still hugs me and I hug him. Words don’t have to be spoken. You just have that moment when you know everything is alright.