On Patriots Day 2020, Boston and the state of Massachusetts stayed home but still ran Boston Strong. Just as they did in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, people seemed united in spirit once again. If there’s a chance a of something close to normalcy – let alone the return of NHL hockey – the unity of the Boston Marathon – even when it didn’t happen – and all that is Patriots Day, if just for one day, became hope and a distraction from the tragedy we all find ourselves in.
With Boston and Massachusetts in their Coronavirus case peak right now and sudden divisions on reopening the state springing up, a day that already tore a piece of our collective hearts arrived amidst chaos even greater than that it delivered seven years ago on Patriots Day 2013. Every Patriots Day since that has obviously held immense meaning but something was different this year. This year, we can’t see or target our common enemy to find and stop. Instead, all we can do is stay home, united and hoping for the best.
“Stay home and stay safe so we can come back sooner rather than later,” Boston Bruins forward Chris Wagner said later in the day in a zoom conference call with fellow Boston area natives Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes and Keith Yandle.
Just prior to tuning in for that conference call I watched this video montage from the Boston Globe narrated by actor and Boston native John Krasinski.
Just as those who run or celebrate the marathon that makes Patriots Day one of the best days of the year in this city and state were torn apart towards the end of the race in 2013, this year we were already physically separated before it even began thanks to the Coronavirus and social distancing. When I awoke Monday and settled into my day, the emptiness I felt following the Marathon Bombings hit me again. The reality that my normal was gone, punched me harder than it has since the NHL and every other sport put their season on pause and my income went on pause with it. Suddenly I realized that I wouldn’t be going to the after-party honoring my friends, Army Ranger Lucas Carr and former Norwood High School hockey player Matt Brown. I wouldn’t see all the wonderful friends I’ve made on this day since 2013.
“I’ve witnessed this Murph, but not even 2013 was this,” Carr told me in what thankfully have been more calls between us lately. “This is what I saw there, in war and the American people today don’t know what this is. It’s new and it’s not going away anytime soon but we need to draw on 2013, 9-11, and yeah, those times when we united. That’s the only way right now.”
As the day went on at least for yours truly, looking back at the unity that ensued for the rest of the week that April in 2013 and well beyond, I felt hope. Obviously that first pro sports game back in Boston, when the Bruins hosted the Sabres on April 15, two days after the bombing went through my head. I was in the press box that night and I’m not ashamed to say it was dusty.
As the day went on, I heard from lots of the crew I befriended through Lucas, Matt and what happened seven years ago and one of the common themes was, like the marathon bombings, what we’re going through now isn’t just about Boston, it’s about our country. A friend sent this great moment when, in the aftermath of the 2013 marathon bombings, Philadelphia Flyers fans paid homage and gave hope to Boston despite the rivalry.
There’s no doubt we could all use moments like those to lift our spirits right now and yes we would all love to be watching the Stanley Cup playoffs but these are the cards we’ve been dealt. This time, no sport is bringing that normalcy back because there may not be another normal again. On Patriots Day 2020 though, at least for one day, for this puck scribe, sports, and the hope it created back in 2013, made it once again, feel like ‘This Is Our Fucking City’!
Thank you to everyone on the frontline right now!