Hey. "Toronto Stronger" Guy.
On Saturday afternoon, I pulled on my Gregory Campbell Bruins sweater and headed into town a few hours before I was due at the Garden for Game 2 of my team’s playoff showdown against your team. Since it was a nice day, a friend and I elected to go for a walk.
It was gorgeous out. Sunny. A little on the cool side, but that’s a New England spring for you. And besides, I liked being able to walk around in my hockey gear with relative comfort. And I found that I wasn’t alone in that sentiment. A fair number of fellow Bruins fans were in the same area. Some Leafs fans, too. And we were all headed for the same place.
My friend and I stopped to take photographs of tulips waving in the breeze before we made our way up the street another block.
There, we found others taking photographs. And other flowers–a small, wrapped bouquet of flowers placed on concrete before a storefront.They looked lonely near the police caution tape, at the base of a building with boarded up windows on the second and third stories.
A policeman oversaw a crew working on the sidewalk next door. Repairing the damage from the bomb, I assumed.
We continued past the people stopping to take photos of the blast site and the damage. A few posed in front of Marathon Sports. I guess they wanted to prove that they witnessed the aftermath for themselves.
We crossed Boylston and turned back along the Boston Public Library, noting the black border that had been painted along the marathon’s finish line. We walked through the memorial that has been created in Copley Plaza, pausing to note crayon lines on a piece of paper: “To Martin: I’m sorry you died at the Bostin Marathon.”
And we saw two words everywhere. On sneakers left behind. In store windows. On t-shirts. Written in black permanent marker on decorative tiles on the sidewalks.
Boston Strong. Our common thread. Our touchstone. Our way to heal.
A short time later, I headed to the game. I screamed as Jeff Bauman waved the Boston Strong flag as we kicked off our pre-game celebration, and I felt incredible pride singing the Canadian and American national anthems. And while we lost that game, I enjoyed the way hockey–and all of our sports, really–have helped us come together and celebrate during the weeks following Marathon Monday.
We might win. We might lose. But we’re Boston Strong.
You clearly can’t understand why this is so much more important than just a sports slogan. And honestly? I hope you never do have to understand it.
- Victoria Welch