Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

It can happen anywhere

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
April 16, 2013 -- Updated 0215 GMT (1015 HKT)
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serves as another reminder of that change, of our frailties and of a new reality in which "it can't happen here" has been replaced by "it can happen anywhere."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
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1305 GMT (2105 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1938 GMT (0338 HKT)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 04: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell walks the sidelines prior to the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field on September 4, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Martha Pease says the NFL commissioner shouldn't be judge and jury on player wrongdoing.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
It's time for a much needed public reckoning over U.S. use of torture, argues Donald P. Gregg.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1225 GMT (2025 HKT)
Peter Bergen says UK officials know the identity of the man who killed U.S. journalists and a British aid worker.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1128 GMT (1928 HKT)
Joe Torre and Esta Soler say much has been achieved since a landmark anti-violence law was passed.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2055 GMT (0455 HKT)
David Wheeler wonders: If Scotland votes to secede, can America take its place and rejoin England?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1241 GMT (2041 HKT)
Jane Stoever: Society must grapple with a culture in which 1 in 3 teen girls and women suffer partner violence.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2036 GMT (0436 HKT)
World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently said the world as we know it could be obliterated instantaneously. Meg Urry says fear not.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2211 GMT (0611 HKT)
Bill Clinton's speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president in 1992 went through 22 drafts. But he always insisted on including a call to service.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2218 GMT (0618 HKT)
Joe Amon asks: What turns a few cases of disease into thousands?
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1721 GMT (0121 HKT)
Sally Kohn says bombing ISIS will worsen instability in Iraq and strengthen radical ideology in terrorist groups.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1730 GMT (0130 HKT)
Analysts weigh in on the president's plans for addressing the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1327 GMT (2127 HKT)
Artist Prune Nourry's project reinterprets the terracotta warriors in an exhibition about gender preference in China.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1336 GMT (2136 HKT)
The Apple Watch is on its way. Jeff Yang asks: Are we ready to embrace wearables technology at last?
ADVERTISEMENT