Chris Young’s 2013 Boston Marathon medal hangs in a place of honor – not on his mantel but in the lobby of the Watertown Police Station.
This year’s race was Young’s first, but his marathon ended at Kenmore Square due to the bombings at the finish line. The attacks hit much closer to home, said Young, who lives in Waltham near the Watertown line.
“My wife was at the Atlantic Fish Co. (in Copley Square), she was right there,” Young said, noting that Erica was his fiancé at the time.
After the attacks, the pair watched the news and followed updates until it overwhelmed them. They turned off their cell phones and computers. Then they heard about the shootout between Watertown Police and the bombing suspects in East Watertown.
“It was right down the street, wife’s father lives in the neighborhood where shootout occurred,” he said. “It hit incredibly close to home.”
When the second suspect was located on Franklin Street and captured, Young and his wife could breath a sigh of relief
“I felt reborn. That’s not really the right word – we felt such relief to have closures I felt like it was the finish we needed.”
Young watched the scenes of people cheering and applauding the police from police departments from dozens of communities and other agencies, but he wanted to do something specifically to thank the Watertown Police.
The Next Morning
The day after the bombers were caught, Young woke up and just knew what he had to do. He didn’t tell his wife what he was about to do, but he didn’t have to.
“I grabbed medal, and she kind of knew what was going on,” Young said. “She said, “Are we going to the Police Station?”
For Young, the medal really belonged to the Watertown Police Department, he said.
“I hadn’t been able to finish the marathon. I didn’t feel like I earned medal, or deserved it,” Young said. “I wanted it show the police department how much we appreciated what they did. The medal seemed like a good symbol how much it meant to us.”
He did not want any fanfare, in fact he hoped to just leave the medal with a note explaining why he donated it to the department.
“I had envisioned in my head, we’d walk in and there would be a receptionist and we would be able to walk away, and they would get in their own time,” Young said.
Instead, they were greeted by a Watertown detective who said she wanted to have Police Chief Edward Deveau accept the medal.
“She put it together. At first she didn’t want to accept it. She said this is yours you earned it,” Young said. “She was like, you can’t move. She went up and got the chief. I can’t imagine what he was doing with everything going on.”
Deveau said he was surprised to be interrupted with all the chaos and activity that had gone on in town, and continued even after the bomber suspects were captured.
“It was a crazy morning. Someone said, ‘You have to come down!,” Deveau said. “I was thinking, ‘I’m really busy. What do I have to come down for?’”
When he got downstairs, Deveau read the letter and saw the medal.
“It was very moving,” Deveau said. “We were still caught up with emotion. We all got choked up.”
The moment was emotional for Young, too.
“Both of us were tearing up a bit,” Young said. “He shared a bit about what had gone on night before, what he could share. It was incredible.”
A Place of Honor
After he left the medal, Young thought that it would be shown around the department, but then he thought it would be filed away.
Deveau, however, had other ideas.
“(The medal) was one of the first of a lot of donations. We got cards, letters but this was the day after (the shootout and capture of the bombing suspects),” Deveau said. “(Young) said, ‘I no longer deserve it. You guys do. It was a major sacrifice.”
Last week, Young was contacted by the Watertown.
“Completely out of the blue, the chief emailed to ask if we were available,” Young said. “He said they were hanging it in the Police Station.”
The medal, and Young’s letter, were framed and will hang in the lobby of the Watertown Police Station.
“All I wanted to do is say thanks to them,” Young said. “The only thing I risked was wear and tear on my knees and lower back, they were out there risking their lives.”
Young also just signed up to run in next year’s Boston Marathon. Last year he raised money for the Charlestown Boys & Girls Club, and this year he will run to benefit the Waltham Boys & Girls Club.