How Bostonians Can Rise Above

Bostonians are better than leaving Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body unburied.

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From left, Lisa Taurasi, Lucy Rodriguez and Luis Barbosa, all of Worcester, Mass., hold protest signs as they stand across the street from Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors in Worcester, Mass. on Sunday evening, May 5, 2013. They are upset about the possibility that Boston marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev may be buried in the United States, and that the body is being held at Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors while a search for a cemetery willing to bury him continues. (Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Betty Jenewin/AP)
From left, Lisa Taurasi, Lucy Rodriguez and Luis Barbosa, all of Worcester, Mass., hold protest signs as they stand across the street from Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors in Worcester, Mass. on Sunday evening, May 5, 2013. They are upset about the possibility that Boston marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev may be buried in the United States, and that the body is being held at Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors while a search for a cemetery willing to bury him continues. (Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Betty Jenewin/AP)

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, dead for more than two weeks now, still sits in a funeral home in Massachusetts. Until recently, no one would claim his body. Tamerlan, known as suspect #1 in the Boston bombings, died after a shootout with the police.

Katherine Russell Tsarnaev, his wife, did not want his body. His mother does, but if she returns to the U.S., she will be arrested for shoplifting. Send him to her? Russia might not agree to take him. His father? He claims he wants to see his sons, but hasn't returned to the United States.

Recently, and only out of a sense of religious obligation, Tamerlan's uncle claimed his body in order to wash and shroud it in compliance with Muslim tradition and religious practice. And now, the body must be buried. It must.

There is no cemetery in the state of Massachusetts that will agree to accept and bury Tamerlan's body. Most wouldn't blame them. They don't want the media circus, vandalism, hatred and loss of business that would go with such an acceptance. 

[See a collection of editorial cartoons on the Boston Marathon bombings.]

Now, I'm a Boston born, bred and raised gal, and I understand the need for revenge. I understand the anger, the hurt, the pain. So I understand those in my former home state of Massachusetts (Mass, as we say, for we love to abbreviate everything!) who do not want Tamerlan buried there.

And there are many more both inside and outside of the state who do not want him buried on American soil at all. "Send him back to his homeland!" many of my twitter followers tweeted. But whether we like it or not, Tamerlan was an American. And for those that want him burned or cremated, it is against his religion, and that right, the very freedom our country was founded on, stays with any of us, good or evil, even in death. 

I have two children. One I adopted. He was born in Karachi, Pakistan. He is my son. He is American, although he was not born here. Now I hope and pray with all my might that my son will be a good person, a fine human being. I pray he will never harm anyone nor commit any crime. But if he does, there are two things I know: 1) I will stand by my son, loving him, even if I do not approve of his choices, his actions. For much like marriage, I consider parenting to be for "better or worse," and 2) he is an American and has every right any other American born here does.

[See a collection of political cartoons on immigration.]

Why was Timothy McVeigh's burial on U.S. soil more palatable? Because he was born here? He is a terrorist. He killed 168 people. Tamerlan killed four. Both are terrorists. Both murderers. 

When did our nation of immigrants become so intolerant of those who make America their home? Many of us, myself included, are first or second generation Americans. If our parents or grandparents commit a crime, should they be shipped back to their land of birth?

If Tamerlan were my son, I would claim his body. For no matter what my children do, they will always be my children. Adam Lanza, the young man who gunned down 26, 20 of whom were children in Newtown, was claimed by his father and will be buried on American soil. The Boston Strangler, Albert DeSalvo, was buried in Peabody, Massachusetts.

No matter how angry we are, we must not allow ourselves to be so consumed with hate that we become violent. There are those threatening the funeral home where Tamerlan's body is being held. My fellow Bostonians; you're better than that. Don't stoop to the tactics of your enemy; otherwise you are the one creating the terror.

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