The Boston Marathon bombings happened over nine months ago, but new stories of strength and resilience are still emerging from the victims and their families. Dave Wedge and Casey Sherman have reported on a recent trip that many of those affected took to France and the bonds that were created through tragedy.
In the piece, written for Esquire, Wedge and Sherman chronicle an all-expenses-paid trip that survivors and victims' families took through the wine country of France. First responders also joined the cruise, which Boston-based Vantage Deluxe World Travel organized. The same company had hosted a similar trip for wounded war veterans a few months before the bombings.
Lu and Ling Jun were aboard the ms River Discovery II. Their daughter, Lingzi, was one of the three people killed in the explosions. The story depicts the parents' constant struggle with the loss of their child. During the cruise, they not only reflected on Lingzi's passing but also experienced seeing firsthand those wounded by the attacks that killed her.
The Juns made a new friend on the trip: Carlos Arredondo. He's the man who was photographed in a cowboy hat rushing victim Jeff Bauman away from the finish line. Bauman also made the excursion; he was in a wheelchair, as he had lost his legs below the knee.
Arredondo and the Juns comforted each other in different ways, whether through talking about their feelings or sharing a simple hug. At the end of the trip, the Juns invited Arredondo to China; he accepted the offer.
In all, 114 survivors traveled through France, exploring the sights and partaking in the cuisine. Some dealt with physical limitations; others overcame emotional obstacles just to gather in public places like pubs and restaurants. But all of them continue to inspire and serve as true examples of "Boston strong."