April 15, 2013, started out as an amazing day.
Although it was a cold one for baseball — I’ve been to previous Patriot’s Day games with summerlike conditions — it wasn’t so cold that it spoiled anything. Plus, I had great company — a friend and her son along with another friend who’d never been to Fenway before. Taking a friend to Fenway Park for the very first time is always fun, as is taking a child. It was an exciting game, too, and with the hangover from the tumultuous 2012 season, we’d been able to secure good, affordable tickets. The Red Sox eventually won 3-2 in a walk-off, giving an early hint that maybe this team would be something special.
Sadly, that did not end up being the most memorable part of the day.
We were safely inside getting lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, well away from the finish line, when the bombs went off. At first it wasn’t clear what had happened. An announcement over the loudspeaker said that there had been criminal activity on Boylston Street and asked us to shelter in place. It took a while — especially with the cell network overloaded — but word gradually filtered through that there had been explosions. Then that it was a bombing. Then, finally, that there were deaths.
In the days to come, the Boston area would be rocked not only by the terrorist attack perpetrated by madmen, but by the hunt for these killers. Through it all — from the moments after the attack through to today — the people of Boston united in an amazing display of civic spirit. They had support from not only the rest of New England and the rest of the country, but the world.
This was no surprise after any terrorist attack, but especially not after one targeting an international event such as the Boston Marathon. There are always runners and spectators from all over the world at the marathon, one of the most prominent professional-amateur athletic events in the world, and 2013 was no exception.
As the city came together, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick quickly set up one official charity to assist victims: OneFund Boston — the slogan of which became “Boston Strong.” The area’s sports teams showed support by adopting “Boston Strong” as well, especially the Red Sox as the team made its magical run toward the 2013 World Series.
Boston Strong isn’t about sports, though. It’s not meant as an expression of support for the Red Sox or any other team. That’s why the Chicago White Sox wore it on shirts before Tuesday’s game in a ceremony marking the one-year anniversary. It’s not just a marketing slogan. Though the Red Sox did enormous good for the city in 2013, the team did it by assisting the victims and their families, not by winning the World Series.
Boston Strong isn’t just about the city of Boston, either. It’s a chance for all of us to honor the victims of not only the marathon bombings but all terror attacks. Just as we did for New York, Washington, London and Madrid, it lets the world come together to show that we do not tolerate terrorism.
Of course, we honor the victims not only with slogans but with actions. We work together not only to assist them but to prevent future terrorism. We do this not just by saying we are Boston Strong but by being it: by going to the 2014 marathon, by barbecuing this summer with friends, by continuing to pack Fenway Park, and by going to parades and fairs.
This is how all of us, no matter where we live, can be Boston Strong: by refusing to live in fear of the world’s cowards, day after day.