The story behind the David Ortiz photo

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David Ortiz runs the last part of the Boston Marathon. Photo by Meredith Perri

David Ortiz runs the last part of the Boston Marathon. Photo by Meredith Perri

I’m, quite honestly, a bit shocked right now. When I posted the photo of David Ortiz onto my Instagram, I never imagined that an hour later it would have gone viral. As some of you know, though, there is a non-social media reason why I’m overwhelmed. Before anything happened with that picture, I had decided I was going to make this post. Now it seems even more relevant.

Today was the first time since April 15, 2013 that I stood on the sidewalk across from the Boston Public Library.

A little over six months ago, I stationed myself on Boylston Street in front of the Bank of America as I live tweeted the results of the Boston Marathon for the BU News Service.

I feel incredibly lucky that my phone had less than 10 percent battery left when the top runners finished the race. After a couple of minutes of contemplating how much I really needed my phone now that I was done tweeting, I decided to return to my room and meet up with a few friends who had graduated the previous spring.

A little more than an hour later I received a phone call from my roommate Daniele. She heard a loud noise, but she couldn’t get Twitter to load. I called her back and told her to get as far away from the finish line as possible, and started checking in on people. Minutes later, my friend Sam called me. His voice was shaking because, based on the pictures that I had tweeted for BU News Service, he thought that I was still reporting when the bomb had gone off.

My photos showed the flags that lined the last few feet of the marathon.

I never went to see the memorials that people put up. In fact, I didn’t return to Copley Square until a few weeks into September, and only because I had to get a new phone after I broke mine.

When people asked about my close call, I told them that I  stood near the flags they saw in the news coverage, but I was too afraid to look at how close I could have been to where the bomb went off.

This all changed a few weeks ago when my parents visited, and we went to the Prudential Center. We were walking down the street on the side of the library when my mother asked where I was standing during the marathon. For the first time I actually looked, and I went a bit numb.

I wanted to stand on Boylston Street today. I wanted to prove — only to myself — that I could stand in a group of people on that street again.

So a few of us made our way down Newbury Street, eventually crossing over and standing right in front of Whiskey’s. As the bearded Duck Boats made their way down the street, my roommate kept saying that she hoped Papi would face where we stood.

Then, all of a sudden, he was in the street. Just as I had done the entire parade, I snapped as many pictures as I could. I wound up with a pretty nice sequence of shots that all came out surprisingly clear. I tried to tweet it out when it first happened, but Twitter had stopped working.

After the parade  passed, our group decided to walk toward the finish line — chase the excitement and maybe see the players for a few more minutes. I had my head down looking at my phone, trying to post the photo to Instagram. It posted as I stepped onto the part of the sidewalk on Boylston that is now plywood. I had unintentionally put myself right back where my fears started, and for a moment I forgot about the Ortiz photo.

Ortiz’s decision to run the last part of the marathon made so many people, myself included, proud of… well everything Boston related.

As idiotic as it may sound, I guess I just didn’t expect so many people to feel the same emotions from that photo, but I’m glad they did.

4 thoughts on “The story behind the David Ortiz photo

  1. Hi Meredith,

    I was very touched by your story. I honesty did the same thing as you and that was go back on Bolyston to regain confidence again. I feel today was a very good day for people to see how we love our city. Thank you for this post and pic.

    I would like to use your picture and story to coincide with a song dedicated to the people of Boston. Please let know iF I can. Here’s the song

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