Call it "terrorism" if a label helps you make sense of this madness. Find who did it and squash him — or them — with what President Obama called "the full weight of justice." But in the broad scheme of things, such loose ends matter less than this: Life in America changed with the Boston Marathon bombings — again, and as with past attacks, for the much worse.
The Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995 and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were knee-buckling blows that led to an obsession over domestic security and foreign wars that will mark — and mar — our generation. The last mass terrorist assault on U.S. soil was carried out by Maj. Nidal M. Hassan, an Army psychiatrist with loose connections to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, who fatally shot 13 people and wounded 30 more at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009.
There were attacks thwarted by the swelling ranks of federal police: The so-called shoe bomber, Richard Reid; an attempt to bomb the New York City subway system in 2009; and an unexploded car bomb in Times Square in 2010.
Boston is another bridge too far. The Boston Marathon and its competitors reflect the best of America — always striving, forever resilient, and, as measured by population and cultural significance, enormous.