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Sunday, April 21, 2013

At the intersection of Sport and History

     Although it isn’t always obvious, I am from Boston . Yes, I have spent most of my life in the Philly metro area, but Boston is still home, if I had my way I would live in both places at once. Boston is a city of small places as you have probably heard over and over again this week. These small places are tied together with string made up of sport and history. Often the thread is sport and history at the same time as is the case with Patriots Day. The holiday is celebrated with the marathon, a Red Sox game and then the Bruins or Celtics in the evening.
      To give this a little personal context I left for Columbus OH on the 9th and was just returning home on the 15th. I was at a trade show that is long days and tight living. I was sick Sunday night. Monday we left around ten in the morning for our long drive home. I was co-pilot and I was glibly telling the driver about Marathon Monday when I started to get texts that something had happened at the marathon.
      Boston lives with one foot in the past. The Marathon celebrates the battles of Lexington and Concord. I know you’ve heard that a million times now, but it can’t be said enough, this is a public Civic holiday. There is so much going on that day; reenactments of the battles, reenactments of the ride of Paul Revere and William Dawes.
      It is often one of the first really nice days in Boston and after a long winter everyone wants to be out. Patriots Day is half memorial service and half Bacchanalia and totally, utterly sacred.
      I don’t know anyone who hasn’t stayed at the finish line until the last runner had crossed a million hours after the start, totally snookered and talking to people they had just met. It’s just something that you do at least once in your life.
     My brother in law had said he might go that year. He had gone in the past. He had decided not to, but it took me about an hour to get in touch with him. Patriots Day in general and the Marathon in particular is personal to Boston. It is ours in a way that no other holiday is.
     I have spent a lot of time texting and e-mailing this week. I have been angry, and frightened and sad. My family has been locked down. My family has heard explosions. Hundreds of rounds were shot not far from my old office.
     This week has been hard, but hard places make hard people. All Bostonians were wounded by this act even if we weren’t there that day. I doubt that we will ever know why this happened, I’m not sure I care why it happened.
      I want my city to go back to normal. I want people to feel safe. I want next Patriots Day to be sunny and I want to see happy locals giveing high fives to strangers again.