Carl Lienert learned about the bombing at the Boston Marathon from a Twitter feed while sitting on a bus soon after completing the race in April.
On Thursday, the professor of mathematics at Fort Lewis College participated in a reading of historical documents that would never qualify as a Tweet under the social network’s 140-character limit.
The Declaration of Independence and President Thomas Jefferson’s inaugural speech of 1801 were among the readings at this Fourth of July tradition at Buckley Park with Lienert’s rendition of President Barack Obama’s speech after the Boston Marathon bombing the most contemporary by easily a 100 years.
Obama’s gratitude to Boston for its fortitude “to push on, to persevere, to not grow weary,” was jarring in its clarity and simplicity after a morning of listening to older and more opaque passages such as: “in the course of human events” from the Declaration of Independence, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s denunciation of the men who “usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself” or Horace Mann’s reference to the “thralldom of British domination.”
Barbara Morris, the provost of Fort Lewis College, referred to the 46-year-old Lienert as an example of endurance, noting that he has completed three Boston Marathons, finishing the most recent in 3 hours and 11 minutes.
“He’s planning to run again,” Morris said.
In contrast to Durango’s smoky holiday, Lienert recalled the weather on the day of the Boston Marathon was “beautiful.”
Fortitude marked this Fourth where sparklers were not even allowed because of the extremely dry conditions,
Rhonda Cahill of Austin, Texas, said the haze from the wildfires made it difficult to drive into Durango. She worried haze might spoil the rest of the vacation.
“Our pictures won’t be as good,” Cahill said. “There’s the burning eyes, the sneezing and all that.”
Shelly Crispin came to Durango for the fireworks and to escape Farmington, where the haze is much worse.
“It’s horrible,” Crispin said. “Our eyes, our lungs – breathing it is horrible. You can’t hardly see.”
She was grateful to get to Durango Thursday. “The closer we got the better it was,” she said.
Parade-goers showed their appreciation to firefighters, who got the biggest applause along the parade route in Durango.
A husband encouraged his wife who was hollering and clapping, “You tell them, babe.”
In a bit of karma, the parade ended with a sprinkle of rain drops.
The Fourth was with Jordan Covarrubias, 28, of Durango, who was dressed along the parade route as a “Star Wars” imperial storm trooper in the white armor and helmet. He is a member of a national storm troopers club called the 501st Legion: Vader’s Fist.
“Our motto is bad guys who do good,” Covarrubias said because they often dress up for charitable events.
He was in costume just for fun Thursday, although he took a Jedi attitude about the fires and smoke.
“It would definitely be nicer with clear skies. We can’t really be the ones complaining since we’re not the ones really suffering in those areas (closest to the fires),” Covarrubias said.
With that attitude, would it not be more appropriate to dress as a Jedi in a sash and long bath robe?
“I think storm troopers look cooler,” Covarrubias said. “Jedis are cool, too, but the only time I ever really run into them is on Halloween.”