April 15, 2013 will be a day no Bostonian, no New Englander will soon forget. Patriot's Day is one of the most celebrated days in our city. Many of us run or take in the marathon, some of us take in the only morning game in all of baseball and some of us keep the day going by going to see Boston Bruins hockey in the afternoon. Fact is, it's a unique day that's all Boston all the way. It's kind of what we do as Bostonians. We support our local teams with force. It's our gathering place.
This year it was warmer than it usually is, sunnier than it usually is on Patriot's Day. I've said it before - it always seems like it's Spring's way of kicking Winter out on it's butt, officially. People were wandering through the city after the exciting Red Sox walk off win and making their way toward the finish line. People lining the streets, cheering on friends and family and even strangers. I couldn't run a marathon, I don't have it in my personal make up to do it. I'm always amazed by people that do. So I cheer for them despite knowing any of them, but I'm always extremely proud of my city on Patriot's Day.
Then IT happened. Two blasts, three lives ended, hundreds injured. Families forever changed. Boylston Street closed, our beloved Copley Square named a crime scene. A city changed. In the following week we would hear great stories of first repsonders helping the injured. Medical personnel, police, fire, emt's and even everyday folks. That's what community is.
In these times, a big part of where cities gather is in our arenas. This doesn't make Boston unique. We've seen it after local tragedies all over the country. Seeing our local heros be honored at these events is very commonplace. It's a way for the community to thank people for their service.
The first sporting event in Boston was a Bruins game vs. the Buffalo Sabres, two days later. We were all shaken up due to the attack on our city. Minds still trying to wrap around why someone would do something so terrible on a day that was so Boston. Hearts with the folks that weren't going to be able to go to the game that night because they were in hospitals trying to be healed. We gathered at TD Garden, we sung the anthem loud and proud. We honored our First Responders. Many of the Boston Bruins have made Boston a year round home for themselves. You could see it weighed heavily on them to give their adopted city a good night. Andrew Ference was visibly shaken during the anthem. After the loss Chris Kelly was nearly apologizing for losing a regular season game.
So time goes on and we keep heading to our gathering spot. And life went on - from finding our later in the week, that it was two brothers that had carried out this heinous attack on our city and following a manhunt that resulted in the death of another from our community.
Out of this act of hate the term Boston Strong was born, our rallying cry. Boston Strong would go on to help to raise money for the vicitims of the bombings. Families would have to be renovating their homes to be handicap accessible. People wouldn't be able to work. Businesses would have to rebuild. And Bostonians gave and gave and gave. It's kind of what we do. When your community is hurt, you help rebuild it. That's what life is.
Though the Bruins stumbled down the stretch, they made the playoffs. The Bruins have also assigned people from our community to wave the Boston Strong Flag and be the Games Banner Captain. Each home game, we learn a little more about someone effected by these terrible actions born of hate. Generally this person is still being treated at a local hospital and wheeled out in a wheelchair. For me it's be a reminder that our city is changed and that Boston Strong is about people getting through this. But at the same time, looking at someone who's lost their legs - and realizing what's their life going to be like now? It's important to keep this in mind. My heart was broken that day and I still can't wrap my head around it, but my day to day life doesn't change, that's not the case for hundreds of people in our city.
Then these things happen, where we have our opposing cities during this playoff run taking shots at Boston Strong. So Toronto Stronger Guy from Toronto, Jordan tweeting guy from Pittsburgh and Cubby Tees with your Chicago Stronger T Shirts...I hope that you never have a day in your lives like April 15, 2013.I hope your city never faces terrorism. It's no mistake that we didn't hear this stuff from New York City. I know you folks don't speak for your city and aren't representative of it. I'm no racist, despite a couple of jerks racist tweets after the Bruins lost to the Capitals last year. I know if you search twitter for hate, you'll find what you are looking for too.
Using Boston Strong in mockery form or hoping that my city gets bombed is ridiculous in response to a hockey game. It's obvious that priorities are out of whack in these instances. Despite all of the excitement over the Stanley Cup Playoffs - it's not life and death. I know we joke that a triple overtime game will be the death of us all. But, really it just means a larger coffee in the morning and maybe a bruised ego, which could be fixed in a couple of days. The events on April 15th, were born out of real hate, not sports hate.
Boston is behind the Bruins, because it's a place to gather as Bostonians right now. I'd love to see the Bruins win the Stanley Cup again as a Bruins fan first and foremost - because I love hockey and that's my team. As a proud Bostonian (what other kind is there?) I want to see people running to Boylston Street for a parade - not away from it.