B-O-S-T-O-N. I know, I know. We’ve probably all heard our fill of Boston over the past week or so. I have a strange feeling that before it’s all over, we’re going to hear a great deal more. In fact, most Americans will forever change the way they think of Boston … and that, in itself, is a tragedy!
Pause for just a moment and focus on the City of Boston as you once knew it. Just about anyone who has ever attended school has a certain degree of familiarity with that historic city. Some have studied the history of Boston, some have visited there regularly, others have adopted one of their famed sports teams. We’ve all been exposed to Boston in one way or another prior to the recent tragedy which captivated headlines around the world.
Have you ever considered the number of reasons people had to think about Boston prior to the horrific bombing? You might be surprised. Of course, answers will vary based on age, location, travel, background, etc. but consider a few of the many possibilities:
Boston Red Sox, Celtics, & Patriots / Irish immigrants / Harvard, Boston College & M.I.T. / the Boston Tea Party & Battle of Bunker Hill / the T.V. show “Cheers” / New Kids on the Block / the Kennedy family / the Subway System & the “Big Dig” / North Church & Paul Revere / Fenway Park & Boston Gardens / The Constitution (ship) / famed medical and research hospitals / Boston Harbor & Boston Commons / and, of course, the Boston Marathon. I’m sure others have many additional memories which would ordinarily come to mind at the mention of “BOSTON.”
Sadly, that will seldom happen in the future. Most all dominant thoughts will be replaced with any number of visions of terrorism, death and horrendous injuries. That is so sad and unfair for so many reasons. Speaking for myself, I refuse to allow that to happen. I’ve had the privilege and opportunity to work in the Boston area a great number of times over the years in my role as a trainer, consultant and keynote speaker. I’ve learned to know and love the people and the culture of Boston. I won’t be able to totally forget the horrendous events surrounding the Marathon. I doubt if anyone will. However, I can choose to replace those events by focusing on more positive actions which arose as the result of so many unsung heroes who surfaced during this tragedy and the days to follow.
There were so many first responders, citizens, fans, police officers, fire personnel, hospital staff, etc. who immediately surfaced to assist those in need. Another impressive group could be classified as fellow Americans all over the country. Let me share one memory that will always stick with me.
I don’t know if you’re aware of the long-standing rivalry between New York City and Boston when it comes to sports of any kind. It’s serious business. The teams’ rivalry, which has reared its ugly head in bench-clearing brawls and fan assaults over the years is unequaled in its intensity and long history. The word “hatred” is often used to describe the feelings that fans from both cities feel for the other.
Due to the intense rivalry, every form of media, here and abroad made it a point to cover fan reactions to the Boston tragedy. The rivalry was set aside and support for fellow Americans emerged as the immediate response to initial news reports. The New York Yankees played a home baseball game the night following the bombing. TV screens around the world focused on Yankee fans wearing Red Sox hats, shirts, and jackets while flying banners and flags supporting Boston.
For over ten years now the Boston Red Sox have enjoyed a tradition of pausing in the eighth inning to pump Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” through their Fenway Park speakers. Everyone in the audience stands up and sways back and forth with their fellow fans in a show of camaraderie and team support. No one is certain how or why this tradition got started but Bostonians seem to love it.
The night following the bombing a few weeks ago, a stadium full of Yankees fans stood arm in arm at the bottom of the third inning in the Bronx, singing along to “Sweet Caroline,” the Boston Red Sox anthem. Irony and sarcasm were absent. During a moment of silence at the start of the game, a large commemorative ribbon with logos from the two teams was shown on the electronic board atop the ballpark. Sincerity was the mood of the night. Hard-boiled New Yorkers knew what the good folks of Boston were going through. It was touching and so representative of how Americans support one another in time of need!
In fact, if you looked around New York the past few weeks, you’d have seen nothing but love for Boston and that is, indeed, a rarity!
In what city officials said was a first, the bright-blue Boston city flag flew at half-staff at New York’s City Hall, on the orders of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
An Occupy Wall Street group, the Illuminator, on Monday night projected the two teams’ logos in large lights on the walls of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. A heart was inserted between the logos, to read “NY(heart)B.” The image has gone viral.
“Sweet Caroline” also was played by the Chicago Cubs, L.A. Dodgers, Miami Marlins, Atlanta Braves, Oakland Athletics, Cincinnati Reds, Seattle Mariners, and the Cleveland Indians.
Interesting footnote: Shortly after the 9-11 attacks on New York’s Twin Towers, everyone in Boston’s Fenway Park stood in unison and sang “New York, New York” accompanied by tears and prayers for the victims of that horrible tragedy. That’s the United States I know, love, and have faith in.
If my previous dominant thoughts of Boston and New York are going to be replaced as a result of terrorism, I’m going to replace them with examples such as those noted above. That’s MY choice and I’ve already made it!