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Highland man relives his week in Boston

April 24th, 2013

Highland native Alan Spaulding found himself at ground zero of the bombing incidents in Boston where he is attending Boston Conservatory, majoring in Acting.

Getty Images

Getty Images

Spaulding calculated that from where he lives and goes to school that he was only 7/10 of a mile from the bombing site on Boylston Street.

At the time of the blasts Spaulding was on his computer in the Student Center at school. He said he did not hear or feel anything but shortly after the blasts fellow students burst in and told him of the bombing and they immediately switched the TV to news coverage. After posting on Facebook that he was safe, he called his father, Lon, and then all cell phone coverage was turned off and his phone went dark.

His mother, Sharon, recalls being on pins and needles until the suspect was caught. She knew that she would not be able to get into Boston with any ease and felt relieved that her son’s school was doing all they could to keep him safe.

Alan Spaulding’s initial reaction of feeling safe quickly grew into anger about what had happened to innocent victims in the street.

Spaulding said he considers his fellow student actors as a family.

“When these bombs went off I felt that someone had personally attacked my family,” he said. “I wanted to do something but the frustrating part was that there was nothing to do.”

On the day of the bombings Spaulding said they were informed to stay off the streets. He said several school rehearsals were canceled “so everyone basically went on lockdown.” Only later that night did he walk back to his apartment. Spaulding noted that many of his fellow students had trouble sleeping “and there was just a lot of unrest.” He said his school’s notice that school classes would continue the next day only exacerbated everyone’s feelings of apprehension.

“People were afraid to walk down the street. They thought they were taking their lives in their hands,” he said.

Spaulding said his class the following day, on Tuesday, “looked right at the barricade. It was literally right there outside the window where there were Humvees and National Guardsmen with assault rifles and SWAT Teams.” Spaulding said some of his friends who lived in the quarantine area reported seeing tanks on the street.

Spaulding said he believes in gun ownership, but his initial reaction to seeing such a large military presence was fear.

“It just wasn’t comforting to have all of those people around with machine guns on the street,” he said. “I know they’re cops but it kept you on edge.”

Spaulding said when the pictures were released of the two suspects “everyone took a breath. They had a face to go along with who did it.” He added that no one in his school community knew these two young men.

By Wednesday Spaulding said he began to feel more at ease and found himself internalizing his feelings and channeling this into his study as an actor.

“I started to use that as fuel in my acting and Thursday everything started to go back to normal,” he said.

Spaulding said Boston was thankful for the way law enforcement handled the situation.

“One of the things that everyone here in Boston was saying was how well the Boston Police Department did,” he said. “Immediately they got into action and they knew exactly what to do. You felt very comforted by how well they did. The Boston Police did an excellent job.”
Spaulding said after the ban to go out on the street was lifted he watched the news of the suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, being caught.

With “We are the Champions” playing in the background Spaulding said “we all were so jubilant and sang and we rocked along with them.”

Spaulding said he and his friends poured out onto Hemenway Street and joined “a huge mass of people.” He ran back to retrieve his American Flag, which he proudly displayed above the crowd; a moment that was captured on film and sent out on CNN, CBS and various affiliates. He said the crowd was chanting USA over and over.

“We sang the National Anthem four times, out of key [and] it did not sound good, but the patriotism that was going around was so amazing,” he said.

Spaulding said this experience “will last with me for the rest of my life.”

“It was one of those real moments that will really stick as a major point for me to pull off of,” he said. “It was a state of mind; it was full of adrenaline, it was full of patriotism. I let go of inhibitions and I allowed myself to live for a few moments. The release that we felt was incomparable.”

By Mark Reynolds
mreynolds@tcnewspapers.com

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