Rivalries forgotten, camaraderie heightened…
Never would I imagine hearing that Yankee Stadium would be playing Sweet Caroline in the middle of the eighth inning nor that the Montreal Canadiens would take a moment to honor Boston before a game. If someone asked me to sum up Boston in one short phrase, I would say it’s a sports town. Whether you’re a diehard fan or not, most would agree that this was unexpected, completely out of left field.
Monday April 15th was a day I had been looking forward to for weeks. Patriots Day- a day I look forward to every year, and a day that I have loved for as long as I can remember. Between the reenactments of Paul Revere’s famous ride, the Boston Marathon, the annual Red Sox early morning game, and a Monday off from school, while the rest of the country starts their week as usual, this is a very special day for the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts. Having been born and raised in Massachusetts, for me it’s a day full of bragging rights, and I take full advantage of this. My freshmen year of college, I remember all the surprised and confused faces of my friends from other states, wondering what Patriots Day was. I remember my Massachusetts pride coming out in full force, slightly angered that they didn’t know.
On Monday April 15th, I got ready to cheer on friends running in the marathon, as well as strangers traveling from all over the world to take part in this special day. I put on my favorite Red Sox cap, got my Dunkin Donuts iced coffee, and headed to Copley with my friends. The weather was perfect, we found a great viewing spot, and we made our friend a poster as we tracked his progress. I remember being frustrated with tourists who were unable to maneuver the crowds as skillfully as I have come to learn.
It had been a great day but in a matter of minutes everything changed. Happiness turned into sadness, smiles into frowns and tears, excitement into panic. Less than 20 minutes after celebrating a friend’s amazing accomplishment, our worlds had been turned upside down. You never expect something like Monday’s tragic events to happen, especially not in your hometown.
In the moments after the explosions it did not matter if you had traveled 5 miles or 5000 to watch the marathon. Strangers came together to help one another. For some Boston has become a second home, whether it’s because of the sports team they play for, the school they go to… even if it’s just home for a week long vacation. For others Boston will always be home but they have also moved away for work or school. They too feel the heartache of Monday’s tragedy. Then there are those who have been here their entire lives, all too close to the tragedy. And then there are those who have never been to Boston, but have an overwhelming sense of compassion, yearning to show their support for this shaken city.
In the days that have followed Monday April 15, 2013 rivalries have been put on pause, and the Yankees, Canadiens, Dodgers, and Sabres among countless others sports teams and cities worldwide have taken the time to show their support for Boston. The Red Sox have come out in full force and have won every game since Monday, taking a “Boston Strong” jersey on the road with them. The Boston Celtics cancelled a game – making it the first time in NBA history all teams will not have played the same number of games. The Boston Bruins held a powerful pregame tribute and moment of silence prior to their game on Wednesday. At the conclusion of the game both the Bruins and the visiting Buffalo Sabres saluted the crowd. Participants in the upcoming London Marathon will wear black ribbons to honor the victims of Monday’s tragedies. These are only a few of the efforts made to help the city of Boston heal. Will Middlebrooks of the Boston Red Sox asked what he could do to help and fans encouraged him to keep doing what they’ve been doing – to play a good game and to make their city proud and so far the Red Sox have done nothing but win for their city, at a time where it is needed the most.
Today if you asked me to describe Boston in one short phrase, I would say surreal. The city is filled with mixed emotion – heartache and sadness but also hope and unity. As President Barack Obama and many others have said, Boston is resilient and we will get through this. We are strong. We may have been shaken but we cannot be broken. As Mayor Menino said no thing can defeat the heart of this city. Nothing. Nothing will take us down because we take care of one another. We will rebuild. And we will run again.
As we headed down to Copley a friend of mine asked me what the unicorn on the marathon jackets symbolized. At the time I did not know but later learned that it symbolizes the strive for excellence, even if it can never be reached.
The city of Boston will come back from this week’s tragic events. Boston is a city that will never give up on its people, and its people will never give up on their beloved city. This has been shown now more than ever. Moments after the explosion, strangers risked their lives to help others, rerouted marathoners continued their journeys to hospitals, lining up to donate blood. Kind words of encouragement flooded social media sites. Community members opened up their homes to others in need of a friend or a place to stay. Law enforcement and medical personnel have worked tirelessly to protect others.
This week I have felt sad, afraid, and angry. But I have also felt proud of my city and thankful for all the amazing efforts of the community. I have come to realize that it will take time for things to feel normal again, but I know that sooner than later the good uplifting emotions will outweigh the bad.
Boston is and will always be my home and Patriot’s Day will always be close to my heart. Boston will run again. Boston will have a 118th Marathon. And I am confident that next year the runners, the supporters, and the entire city of Boston, MA will be one step closer to reaching excellence.