Boston is not your normal city, it does not have the biggest buildings, it does not have the best commute, it does not have the best construction ideas, it does not have glamour, but there’s two things Boston has that no city in the world can match. Pride and Sports. Even when her people are in distress and gripped by fear, she always finds a way to pull us together.
On April 15, 2013 two homemade explosive devices were placed on Boylston Street in downtown Boston. These devices were hidden in trash cans and backpacks adjacent to the finish line of the 116th running of the Boston Marathon. Without any warning, approximately four hours into the race, the bombs went off. 250 Runners and bystanders were injured, 3 of the victims died. The carnage of the scene on Boylston Street is one that will forever stain the image of the Boston Marathon; blood running down the sidewalks, family members crying out for their injured loved ones, and screams that echoed through the wounded city, all of these images were so vastly portrayed through media outlets and news stations across the nation. Twitter, Facebook, CNN, FOX News, and even ESPN began running live streaming news giving updates on the wounded as well as accusing terrorist groups and nations that harbor them before anyone knew for sure. The world was caught off guard and reacted out of fear, in Boston the only concern was the injured and how to help. On that calm spring day of April 15, 2013 the nation stopped and focused on Boston and what had quickly become the sum of all our fears.
Boston is worldly renowned for three things; chowder (or Chowdah), beer, and most importantly sports. These three things are not compliments of a normal city life, in Boston they are themselves, a way of life. A sense of pride in the city was at an all-time-high around 2004, the Red Sox won their first World Series in eighty-six years, the Patriots capped off their dynasty with their third Superbowl ring in four years, and both the Bruins and Celtics were climbing their way back into contention. More than ever, people were proud to say their home was Boston, Massachusetts. Fast-forward a little to that tragic afternoon of April 15, 2013 and examine the Boston sports landscape; the Red Sox were in the back of every Bostonians mind thanks to their woeful 2012 season that ended with the teams worst record in its history (69-93), the Patriots had just capped off a prominent season with a painful loss to the Ravens in the AFC championship game (28-13), the Celtics started out on a tear and were flat lining, and finally the Bruins which were the heart of the cities pride around April, were doing well and on pace to make the playoffs. But on April 15, 2013 sports was the last thing on anyone’s mind. The bombings and following manhunt resulted in two Bruins games being cancelled, and the entire city of Boston was on lock down for 24 hours. The prideful/powerful city of Boston was brought to its knees by two adolescents who had nothing but hate in their hearts and destruction in their minds.
After the smoke cleared, so to speak, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had been arrested and his brother Tamerlan killed by police, the people of Boston were still shell-shocked. People rejoiced in the streets and thanked the true heroes of Boston, the State Police officers as well as the EMT workers, but then it was time to let the sports in Boston begin. Two events stand out to me as a proud Bostonian that not only captured the hearts and minds of all other Bostonians after this crisis, but also reminded us that in life the simplest things can be enough to overcome tragedy.
The first resounding effect left on Boston from sports was the national anthem sung by Rene Rencourt in the TD Garden on April 17, 2013.
The second of these came with the now-famous David Ortiz speech to Boston Red Sox fans before a game against the Royals on April 20, 2013.
“This is our f****** city, stay strong” – David Ortiz