Crowd Crush

I’ve been reading a little about the Seoul Halloween Crowd Crush. There was a holiday celebration, the first after social distancing from COVID, and many more people showed up than expected, the layout of the streets funnelled them into a small area, and at least 156 people were crushed to death and at least 172 were injured.

It brought back memories. In October of 1979, Pope John Paul II visited Boston. There was a big temporary canvas covered altar set up on the Common. It was beautiful. Back then, I was 20 years old, active in the church, and had been invited to be in a special youth section up front, right in back of the VIPs, but in front of the vast masses covering the rest of the Common.

I got there early afternoon, and at first, it was great. I was close, I could see the altar clearly. When the Pope arrived, I was close enough to see him, and hear him say, “America the beautiful, beautiful even in the rain.”

But then the pushing started. Gradually, the folks behind us started trying to get closer, and started pushing from the back. We started moving forward, but there was only so far we could go because of the barriers in front separating us from the VIP section. It was scary, and I decided right there and then that I never wanted to be in that big of a crowd ever again. I can only imagine how the people who died felt at the end.