It has been just under a week and a half since the Boston Marathon bombing, but it has already felt longer. So much has happened since then, including the death of one suspect and the capture of the other for the involvement in the terrorist attacks.
Though it will never feel as if justice was served for what those two suspects allegedly did, at least there is some sense of closure and the nation can continue it’s healing process.
The Boston Marathon is an over 100-year-old event that brings in athletes and spectators from all around the world. It is the world’s oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the best-known road racing events. However, a senseless act of violence ruined what usually is a joyous event that brought people of all different ages, ethnicities and backgrounds together through the spectacle that is sports.
Sports are a global force when it comes to unity and a shared experience for millions of people. So, it was only natural for a sporting event to showcase the fact that the City of Boston is healing.
Just two days after the bombing, the first big event happened in the city as the Boston Bruins took the ice to face off against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden Arena. Before the game was played, a ceremony was held to honor the victims of the marathon bombings.
Shortly after the hockey team took the ice and was given a standing ovation, a video that included images from the marathon bombings was shown to honor the first responders, some of whom were present at the game. The end of the video had a written message that read, “We are Boston. We are strong. Boston strong.”
Then came the emotional peak of the event as regular national anthem singer Rene Rancourt walked on the ice to sing with the Boston Fire Color Guard at his side. Rancourt began to sing the national anthem with his beautiful and boisterous operatic voice.
Just a few bars into the song, it was blatantly obvious something special was happening. The Boston crowd was singing the national anthem loud and proud as the voices of the people echoed through the TD Garden arena. Rancourt made the decision to stop singing less than halfway through the anthem and in doing so, the entire world was able to hear the voices of the City of Boston.
The moment spread through the media virally as if it were a way for Boston to say, “We are okay and we are healing.”
When I first saw footage of the national anthem, goosebumps appeared all over my arms and back as it was one of the most powerful moments I have witnessed in my many years of sports fandom. The moment transcended sports and it made me realize what a healing mechanism a simple sporting event can serve as.
After the game concluded, the first responders that were in attendance were invited by the Boston Bruins for a meet-and-greet and were treated to beers from the team.
However, this touching gesture was not an isolated incident when it came to an outpouring of support across the Boston sports spectrum. In fact, that same night, the NBA’s Boston Celtics were visiting the Toronto Raptors. The two teams gathered at midcourt to observe a moment of silence. Then, as the Celtics were being introduced, Neil Diamond’s classic hit “Sweet Caroline” was played. The song has been long associated with Boston’s beloved MLB team, the Red Sox.
Another heartwarming tribute was the playing of that same song by the Red Sox’s bitter rivals the New York Yankees. The two teams are considered to have the greatest rivalry in sports, but for one night, all the feelings of hatred went away as the Yankees supported their brothers to the north.
The gesture even moved the actual artist of the song as Neil Diamond tweeted: “Thank you NY Yankees for playing ‘Sweet Caroline’ for the people of Boston. You scored a homerun in my heart.”
This was not the first time this type of phenomena has happened in the sports world, as it was once the Yankees themselves on the receiving end of support after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
At the time, the Yankees were contending for the World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks and seemingly had the support of the entire nation as they went after another championship. Thousands in the crowd proudly wore FDNY and NYPD shirts and hats in support for the first responders of that tragedy.
While there may never be enough justice served to make up for these atrocities, there is some type of consolation in knowing something as simple as a sporting event can bring a city, and possibly a nation, together.