A Culture of Tenacity

It occurred to me yesterday evening as I walked off my flight from San Diego into Terminal C at Boston’s Logan Airport that I have done this before—landed at an East Coast hub two weeks after a major terrorist attack.  On September 20, 2001, my daughter and I, not without some hesitation, boarded a flight to Boston to look at colleges.  That was a long time ago but the mood there at Logan was strangely similar.  I ducked into Hudson’s Books for a late night snack, since I was waiting for her flight from Houston, and a woman in line next to me said, “Do you have any of those Boston Strong buttons?”  I had been thinking the same thing, just as she said it.


Bostonians have a long history of resilience and tenacity.  When I was a horse loving kid I read a story about Paul Revere’s horse, told from the point of view of the horse (of course!)  Apparently Paul did not spare the spur in his midnight ride on Brown Beauty, a mare borrowed from Samuel Larkin—nothing would deter him from his mission, and the good people of Boston, their roots steeped in hardship and persecution and war and famine, have followed suit for centuries.   The blood shed on the cobblestones of Boylston Street two weeks ago was not the first, nor will it likely be the last.


What I loved about my training in Boston thirty years ago was that same unflinching and uncompromising commitment to patient care demonstrated by the forefathers in their commitment to freedom.  Yes, the hospitals where I trained had some of the best teachers and most dedicated researchers in the business.  They wore their old school bow ties like badges of honor, and they still do.  Doctors wore white coats, and medical students did not inquire if it was okay to wear shorts to clinic, as they sometimes will in Southern California.   There was a certain formality, which translated into respect—for their peers, for their students, and for their patients.  Especially for their patients.  We laughed about them, we cried about them, we read and lived “The House of God”, and in the end we gave our all for them. I have missed that these last twenty years.


It’s good to be back.


  1. Happy memories I’m sure. I remember when I visited you all in Boston after Alex was born – think she was about 4 weeks then. Where has the time gone? I remember how fun it was walking around Boston in late November when the cold was bone-chilling; and when we took a country drive to buy a still warm pie from a baker. Warm pie on a cold night with good friends and a new baby. Tell Alex to put that on her “TO DO” list. (there’s plenty of time, no hurries)

  2. Speaking of Boston – this morning NPR had a long interview with two of the bombing survivors (a double amputee and her daughter). At last some focus on the people affected instead of just the perpetrators.

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