The parking lot at the Hannaford in Gardiner, near the Kennebec River Rail Trail head, filled with people shortly before 6 p.m., Monday evening. Runners. Walkers. Adults. Children. Some wearing race T-shirts. Some wearing blue and gold (the colors of the Boston Marathon). Some wearing Boston Red Sox shirts, some wearing Celtics shirts. Some wearing duct tape on the back of their shirts with the words Boston Strong written on it.

All of them were there to support the city of Boston, the victims of the bombings at the Boston Marathon, and the law enforcement officials who showed such bravery in tracking down the men believed to be responsible for the attack.

Monday’s gathering of about 70, called #BostonStrongGardiner and organized by Jen Boudreau of Gardiner, resembled the gatherings that have taken place across the country in the wake the Boston Marathon bombing. There were similar events in Hallowell and Belgrade last week.

The Gardiner event was part of a global movement, started by the blog Pavement Runner ( The idea was to bring runners, and walkers, together a week after the Boston Marathon bombing to show their support and share their love. According to the website, there was at least 120 #BostonStrong events Monday.

On Monday in Gardiner, we talked about the bombings, but it didn’t dominate conversation. Some of us who were in Boston for the Marathon talked about where we were when the bombs went off and how grateful we were to be home, safe and sound. However, we also talked about upcoming races, training, the Boston Marathon expo, in other words, we talked about all the things runners talk about.

For me, #BostonStrongGardiner was a chance to show my support, meet some runners I’ve talked to only online, run with my sister (who traveled from Naples to participate) and to do what we runners do: Run.

But it was also a chance to move forward. We should never forget what happened at the Marathon and we should never forget the victims who were injured or killed in these attacks or the heroes who sprang into action when all hell was breaking loose.

We should not, however, live in fear or live with depression.

And we haven’t.

If Monday’s event in Gardiner shows anything, it’s that in times of tragedy, we don’t run and hide, we band together. We gather to run with people we’ve never met. We loudly sing the national anthem at Fenway Park and the TD Garden. We honor the men and women who were so brave in face of terror. We laugh. We cry. We go for a jog.

You may not have liked the words that Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz used during his speech to the fans at Fenway Park before Saturday’s game, but his sentiment was dead on: We will stay strong, we won’t back down in the face of fear and we won’t stop living our lives.

Monday night, we lived our lives. We got in a little exercise and enjoyed some nice company on a chilly April evening one week after watched in horror as one of New England’s great treasures was attacked.

Not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about what happened in Boston on Patriots Day, but thanks to the ceremonies at Fenway Park and the TD Garden, and events like #BostonStrongGardiner, I don’t just think about the tragedy and the fear. I also think about how we have demonstrated our strength and how we’ve come together.

To see such a gathering of people running and walking the Rail Trail on Monday evening, laughing and smiling, I’d say we listened to Big Papi and stayed strong.

Scott Martin — 621-5618

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