Monday, April 22, 2013

Boston Strong

A city has a pulse, a soul. It can be heard in the symphony of sounds that play out on its streets; it can be felt in its old buildings and in its rich culture; and it can be seen in the unique character of its people. This pulse continues in good times and in bad. It beats through happiness and strife. It endures, and in a nation as strong and proud as the United States, the pulse from some cities is so loud and distinct that their identities are often known and treasured around the world.

Cities, like New York and San Francisco, like New Orleans and Atlanta, like Nashville and Seattle and many, many more, exist as both independent entities and brilliant accompaniments to their nation. They shine with rare qualities that make them stand out from the crowd, that make them representatives of our great nation.

Boston is one of those cities. It’s always stood out, and following the events of April 15, 2013, it will stand out now more than ever.

On the third Monday of every April, Massachusetts and Maine observe Patriots’ Day, a civic holiday that commemorates the anniversary of the Battles of Concord and Lexington, the first two battles of the American Revolutionary War. Schools and businesses are closed. Festivities ensue.

Boston celebrates this day of patriotism and pride with the running of the Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon. This year’s marathon, however, was clouded by the actions of two terrorists. Just before 3:00pm, hours after the race had begun, twin explosions rocked the finish line of the marathon, sending spectators and runners alike into a state chaos and panic.

Extraordinarily, even before what had happened was completely clear, some people were charging towards the scenes of the explosions. Video of the event reveals some of the heroes of that day, selflessly running towards danger to save anyone they could.

That was the first indication of how Boston would react to the horror and terror of the attack. Instead of folding under, instead of running away in fear, the city and its people would hold their heads high in the days following the bombings. They would prove to exemplify their rallying cry of “Boston Strong.”

While the details of the attack were still being revealed and the suspects were still at large, the city reacted in the only way it knew how: with strength and pride. Unsure of what the days after the attack would bring, Bostonians pulled together as if to say, “You picked the wrong city to mess with.” During the Bruins game on the Wednesday night following the marathon, their mettle was further proven as the entire crowd joined in with the national anthem, all but drowning out the singer there to perform.

Mirroring the moment at the Bruins game, a chorus of voices calling for love and justice has risen to all but drown out the evil deeds of two men, who were identified and subdued in record time, a truly amazing feat performed by both federal and Massachusetts law enforcement. These voices represent a city and a nation that values freedom and justice.

Yes, Boston has a pulse, and today, that pulse is beating stronger than ever, and while it mourns the loss of three bright young lives, it proves that evil actions will not define it, that dark clouds won’t hang over its buildings and trees and streets paved with heart, strength, and bravery. It has been and will forever be Boston Strong.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Number 7

The Famous Slide

“Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!” I can still remember Skip Carey yelling those sweet words. I had been sprawled out on our living room floor, eyes glued to the television, tomahawk chopping the night away. I was nine-years old and had a pretty serious passion for baseball. As Skip yelled, I danced across the room, screaming and shouting for my Atlanta Braves.

Sid Bream sliding into home base on that fateful night in 1992 is one of those moments that just sticks with you.  Great baseball can deliver those moments, and there’s a new baseball team in my life now that I expect will deliver some awesome ones.

My nearly four-year old nephew Garrett started playing t-ball this year. He plays for a less famous Braves team and is the number 7. Naturally, I’m pretty excited that he wears Mickey Mantle’s number, and I’m absolutely convinced that he’s going to be the next Chipper Jones or perhaps Greg Maddox, ‘cause y’alll this boy can throw!

He had his first game over the weekend. Number 7, with a slightly too big uniform and face perpetually smudged with dirt or chocolate, covered first and third and hit a couple of line drives. He ran the bases like a pro and slid into home with a finesse that would make even Sid Bream jealous. Sliding into home and running the bases are his favorite moves, but his real talent lies in his hitting and throwing.

Naturally, I’m partial, but I’ve never seen a three-year old with a better arm than Garrett. I see baseball scholarships and major league pennants in his future. Of course, I won’t push; he’s got his entire future ahead of him, so if he decides to give up baseball and play the guitar instead, he’ll have his Aunt Katie’s undying support. But I do see a little natural talent in the way he tosses that ball.

Sunday afternoon was spent with a family game of baseball in the backyard. Mama and Daddy (Nana B and Papa to Garrett) set up a makeshift baseball diamond, complete with a chair as first base and terracotta planters as second and third. A busted up stick from an oak tree served as home plate.

Papa pitched, and Garrett was first up to bat. He connected on the first pitch, and the crowd went wild. He made it all the way to third, and the tone of the game was set.

We soon learned that baseball according to Garrett’s rules was a little different. The little smarty pants took full advantage of the chair base, sitting down every time he made it to first, and he gave a whole new meaning to the word switch hitter. If ever he swung and missed a pitch, he’d turn around and face the catcher, my husband Jeremy, and say “Now, you throw!” And the catcher would become the pitcher.

Despite some initial confusion over the chair base and switch hitting, it was easily the best baseball game I’ve ever played in or watched. I see big things in Number 7’s future. 

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