Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

It can happen anywhere

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
updated 10:15 PM EDT, Mon April 15, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ Granderson: April 15, 2013, bombings a reminder of ever-present threat of terrorism
  • He says September 11, 2001, changed our world; now we know "safety" isn't going to return
  • President Obama didn't use word "terrorism" but everyone knows that's what it's about, he says

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and was a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs.

Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) -- If September 11, 2001, was the day everything changed, then April 15, 2013, serves as another reminder of that change, of our frailties and of a new reality in which "it can't happen here" has been replaced by "it can happen anywhere."

When initial reports came out of Boston about two explosions occurring near the finish line of the 116th marathon -- a marathon that began with 26 seconds of silence in honor of the 26 victims of the Newtown massacre -- we held our collective breaths and hoped it was a freak infrastructure accident.

Or compromised electrical wiring.

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

Or a gas leak.

Anything other than ...

President Barack Obama did not say the word "terrorism" in his brief address, perhaps waiting until more facts are learned. We don't know how many are responsible, we don't know motive, if any, and we don't know whether it's domestic or foreign. But we do know the FBI said the explosions were well-planned. We know the Boston Marathon is seen around the world. And we know three people are dead, including an 8-year-old boy, more than 100 are injured, and countless lives have been scarred.

Get up-to-the-minute updates on CNN.com's live blog

So if September 11, 2001, was the day our innocence was taken, then April 15, 2013, is the reminder that it is never coming back.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



And we do not need the president to say the word to feel the word.

It is felt each time we have to take off our shoes at the airport, have an TSA officer pat us down, throw away a tube of toothpaste because it's over the allotted 3.4 ounces. The FAA temporarily restricted flights over the bombing site while security was increased in cities as far away as Miami and Los Angeles.

We do not need the president to say the word to feel it.

I was in central London earlier this month and was having a difficult time finding a garbage can whenever I had something to discard. Finally, I asked some of the residents why it was so hard to find one and was reminded that the Irish Republican Army hid bombs in garbage cans during the 1990s and as a result they are still seen as a security threat.

An injured man is loaded into an ambulance after two bombs went off near the finish line of the fabled Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15. For the latest details, read CNN's developing news story. An injured man is loaded into an ambulance after two bombs went off near the finish line of the fabled Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15. For the latest details, read CNN's developing news story.
Deadly attack at Boston Marathon
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Deadly attack at Boston Marathon Photos: Deadly attack at Boston Marathon
Marathoner: Blasts 'absolutely surreal'
Producer captures Boston blast on video
Runner: Shock waves hit my whole body

This is what happens when evil like the kind experienced in Boston takes away our innocence.

It forces us to empty our pockets, have our bags inspected and remove trash cans from the streets of a major international city.

We don't need the president to say the word to be reminded constantly that if we see something, we need to say something, blurring the lines between a healthy awareness of our surroundings and irrational paranoia. But then again, is our paranoia that irrational if something as celebratory as the Boston Marathon is no longer a safe place to be?

If September 11, 2001, made you cry, then April 15, 2013, should make you angry.

All of the laws, the creation of Homeland Security, the trillions spent, the political grandstanding and debates and yet the best we can do is make the country safer. We will never, ever be safe again. Not in the way many of us remember being safe growing up.

When I'm in a large crowded space, I check for emergency exits ... and I hate it.

But like love and good, evil is an omnipresent force imposing itself on the rest of society like an untreatable cancer. So while Obama telling the American people those responsible will "feel the full weight of justice," we are haunted by the fact that "justice" won't bring the victims back.

"Justice" won't undo the fear embedded in the people who were closest to the blast. "Justice" won't take us back to September 10, 2001 ... back before the word "terrorism" was on the tip of every American's tongue.

And make no mistake, while the president did not use that word in his news conference, that is the word federal authorities are using. Doesn't matter if the culprits of this heinous act came from afar or home. The origin of the person or persons responsible won't bring us the peace that we took for granted not so long ago. That peace is gone, forever. Our children will hear stories about this peace and our children's children will treat it as a fairy tale.

If April 15, 2013, was the day the Boston Marathon became a target for terrorism, then September 11, 2001, was the day we all were warned that it would be. Since then nothing has been the same.

Nothing will be the same.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 2:45 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Steve Israel is right: Some Republicans encourage anti-Latino prejudice. But that kind of bias is not limited to the GOP.
updated 7:23 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Peggy Drexler counts the ways Phyllis Schlafly's argument that lower pay for women helps them nab a husband is ridiculous.
updated 12:42 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Rick McGahey says Rep. Paul Ryan is signaling his presidential ambitions by appealing to hard core Republican values
updated 11:39 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Paul Saffo says current Google Glasses are doomed to become eBay collectibles, but they are only the leading edge of a surge in wearable tech that will change our lives
updated 2:49 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Kathleen Blee says the KKK and white power or neo-Nazi groups give haters the purpose and urgency to use violence.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Henry Waxman say read deep, and you'll see the federal Keystone pipeline report spells out the pipeline is bad news
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Frida Ghitis says President Obama needs to stop making empty threats against Russia and consider other options
updated 5:29 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say the Kansas Jewish Center killings are part of a string of lethal violence in the U.S. that outstrips al Qaeda-influenced attacks. Why don't we pay more attention?
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Danny Cevallos says families of the passengers on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 need legal counsel
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Frum says Russia is on a rampage of mischief while Western leaders and Western alliances charged with keeping the peace hem and haw
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Most adults make the mistakes of hitting the snooze button and of checking emails first thing in the morning, writes Mel Robbins
updated 1:54 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Wheeler says as middle-class careers continue to disappear, we need a monthly cash payment to everyone
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Democrats need to show more political spine when it comes to the issue of taxes.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Donna Brazile recalls the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act as four presidents honored the heroes of the movement and Lyndon Johnson, who signed the law
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Elmer Smith remembers Chuck Stone, the legendary journalist from Philadelphia who was known as a thorn in the side of police and an advocate for the little guy
updated 2:56 PM EDT, Sun April 13, 2014
Al Franken says Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, wants to acquire Time Warner Cable, the nation's second-largest cable provider. Should we be concerned?
updated 11:22 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Philip Cook and Kristin Goss says the Pennsylvania stabbing attack, which caused grave injury -- but not death, carries a lesson on guns for policymakers
updated 3:06 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Wikipedia lists 105 football movies, but all too many of them are forgettable, writes Mike Downey
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
John Sutter and hundreds of iReporters set out to run marathons after the bombings -- and learned a lot about the culture of running
updated 12:49 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Timothy Stanley says it was cowardly to withdraw the offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The university should have done its homework on her narrow views and not made the offer
updated 10:16 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Al Awlaki
Almost three years after his death in a 2011 CIA drone strike in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki continues to inspire violent jihadist extremists in the U.S, writes Peter Bergen
updated 9:21 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
David Bianculli says Colbert is a smart, funny interviewer, but ditching his blowhard persona to take over the mainstream late-night role may cost him fans
updated 1:31 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Rep. Paul Ryan says the Republican budget places its trust in the people, not in Washington
updated 5:28 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Aaron David Miller says Obama isn't to blame for Kerry's lack of progress in resolving Mideast talks
updated 11:22 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Weinberger says beyond focusing on the horrors of the attack a year ago, it's worth remembering the lessons it taught about strength, the dangers of idle speculation and Boston's solidarity
updated 12:32 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Katherine Newman says the motive for the school stabbing attack in Pennsylvania is not yet known, but research on such rampages turns up similarities in suspects and circumstances
updated 2:39 PM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Wendy Townsend says the Rattlesnake Roundup -- where thousands of pounds of snakes are killed and tormented -- is barbaric
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT