Saturday, January 7, 2023

The Boston Marathon Bomber - Buried in Virginia


Doswell, Virginia, just outside of Richmond, is home to the Al-Barzakh Islamic Cemetery.  It is uniquely situated in a residential neighborhood not far from the Kings Dominion amusement park.  Visitors can often hear the everyday sounds of dogs barking and children playing, as well as the screams of those riding a variety of roller coasters.

This small and rather simple cemetery made international headlines in May 2013, when it was revealed that it would be the final resting place of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.  Earlier that spring, Tsarnaev, joined by his brother Dzhokhar, carried out an attack on the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured hundreds more.  Tsarnaev was killed four days after the attack in a shootout with police, but not before being repeatedly run over with an SUV by brother Dzhokhar.

While his brother went off to prison, Tamerlan's remains were turned over to his uncle, who had difficulty finding a cemetery willing to take them. The citizens of Boston vehemently opposed his burial there and even protested outside of his funeral service.

A Virginia resident named Martha Mullen, who had no ties to the case, took sympathy on the family after hearing media reports and arranged a Virginia burial with her local church.  As in Boston, local residents were outraged by the decision, but Tsarnaev was ultimately laid to rest in the park.

The cemetery is just a quick drive from this blogger's hometown, and it is one I've been meaning to visit for a few years. I finally did just that, and I was amazed by the simplicity of the park. 

Burials are conducted in chronological order.  Each grave has the same concrete slab and a simple name tag listing only the date of death, with no other information.  Anyone looking for Tsarnaev's grave will come up empty handed though, as there is no exact tag with his name or date of death.  I think that I indeed found it under a pseudonym, but without confirmation, I won't post that tag here.

Normally, this is where I end the post by saying "rest in peace."  Not this time though.

  • Prior to the race, runners observed 26 seconds of silence to honor the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which claimed the lives of 26 people.

  • Ethiopian runner Lelisa Desisa won the men's division that year, finishing in two hours and ten minutes.  Kenyan Rita Jeptoo won it for the ladies, finishing in two hours and 26 minutes.  More than 23,000 runners participated.

  • Dzhokhar was found guilty for his role in the attack.  Despite a series of legal reversals, he is currently sitting on death row.

  • Celebrities with ties to the Boston area took to social media to condemn the attacks.
    Howard Stern. "I don't know why, I just never think of Boston being victims of some kind of act like this.  But we're not safe anywhere and there are maniacs running around in our midst..."
    John Kraskinski. "My heart and my prayers are in Boston and with everyone affected by this nightmare of an incident."
    Mark Wahlberg.  "Thoughts and prayers with my hometown Boston today."
    Maria Menounos.  "Flying home because I need to be there."
    Dane Cook.  "My prayers with everyone in Boston right now after this atrocious act of violence!!"

  • A memorial honoring the victims was erected in August 2019.  Built by sculptor Pablo Eduardo, it can be found near the finish line on Boylston Street.  

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