The bad guys lost.

That’s what today — the past year, really — is about in Boston. In New England. In America.

On the continuum of responding to tragedy, specifically the finish-line bombings at the 2013 marathon, I stand tiptoeing the edge closest to David Ortiz’s defiance and lean away from the rest of the world’s solemnity.

In a perfect world, or my version of it, we would have heard the last of these two clowns, their evil deeds and the damage they inflicted upon bodies, minds, souls and families.

Of course that isn’t realistic. This is the U.S. of A., where we appreciate the value of a good cry. Where we at least attempt to process and learn from history, so that we are not condemned to repeat it.

To compound that, we live in a small, tight-knit corner of that nation, where everybody knows somebody. Not many degrees of separation are required to personalize this devastating event. Perhaps we knew somebody who ran, or wasn’t finished running. Or maybe our connection is personal as having walked the street where it happened, a thousand times.

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Those wounds don’t heal overnight, in a week, or even a year. Grief is the most intensely personal of all emotions. It’s not my business to tell you I’m doing it right and you’re doing it wrong.

That said, I hope and pray that Monday is the beginning of the end.

When the Boston Red Sox are done beating the daylights out of the Baltimore Orioles by early afternoon, and when thousands upon thousands of runners from around the world are finished sprinting across that fateful finish line with heads held high, let it be the vivid, mighty turning of a page.

Should we pause at future editions of the marathon, or prior to the anthem’s ring at Fenway Park, to remember that dark day in the history of a city, region and nation? Absolutely.

Pause being the operative word. Moment of silence, please. Let’s preserve the memorial Masses and heart-wrenching documentaries for 5 and 10-year anniversaries.

Reopening the file more often that runs the risk of letting Dumb and Dumber — and no, I don’t use their real names, because that’s what they wanted in the first place — win.

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If history and our New England forefathers have taught us anything, it’s that sometimes you overcome injustice simply by standing up and saying, no, we won’t have any of that.

Long before those yahoos messed with the wrong city, let’s not forget, this was already a pretty significant holiday ’round these parts. The third Monday in April is Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts and Maine. It’s a day upon which we celebrate the strength, bravery and convictions of ordinary men who thumbed their nose at tyranny and an invisible hand controlling their lives.

Sometimes I feel that our current “leaders” adore our prolonged, solemn response to every tragedy that strikes America. There have been so many in recent years, after all. And the more time and energy we devote to mourning, the more distracted we are from seeing the everyday problems that do just as much to tear apart our country.

Two hundred thirty-nine years after the battles of Lexington and Concord that inspired the traditional holiday, if the invisible hand isn’t government, it’s the evil that miscreants commit with guns, knives, box cutters and explosives.

Insanity and hatred aren’t going away anytime soon, and so the situation demands a decision from the good people of the world. Do we choose to live in mourning and fear? Or triumph and resistance? It’s a more important distinction than any of us can possibly imagine.

Monday’s marathon is expected to draw a field surpassed only by the historic 100th running in 1996.

That tells me we’ve made the right decision. I pray that we continue. I pray that for this and future Patriot’s Day mass gatherings on Lansdowne and Boylston streets, we keep choosing defiance over lamentation.

It is one time, in the context of both sports and life, when winning is essential.

Kalle Oakes is a staff columnist. His email is [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Oaksie72.


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