I grew up watching the Bruins on television. As an adult, I have stuck with them through bad years and good years. In spite of a broad love for sports, the only game my kids seem to connect with is hockey. Last night, like many other fathers in and around Boston, I took one of my boys to the hockey game. I was not prepared, walking into the TD Garden, for the emotion that would come with Boston’s first large (17,000 strong) gathering since Monday’s tragedy. Truth be told, I am not sure any of us walking in knew what it would be like to be together. There is strength in numbers and before the hockey started last night, the Bostonians gathered in the Garden gave voice to their collective strength. Together, in silence and singing the national anthem, we shouted at the mad men who attacked our city and we let them know that we were unbowed.
I cannot remember a crowd making so much noise at the beginning of a game. We shared a moment of silence. The Garden created a beautiful montage of images from Monday — capturing both the horror of the day and the grace of those citizens who ran to (and did) provide assistance to the injured. Then, it was time for the national anthem, and Rene Rancourt (the Bruins’ long time singer) made the decision to turn the song over to the crowd. Malcolm and I, standing among thousands of people who will never sing professionally, raised our voices. I took a moment to look at people’s faces. There were tears, but there was a deep pride in the song and in the feeling of singing together. Trust me in saying that I have failed to capture the feeling. Trust me also in saying that the energy following our singing was unlike anything I have felt in a crowd.
After the anthem, the players moved to center ice. As the players lined up, the crowd chanted — “Let’s go, Boston.” My whole life that chant has been “Let’s go, Bruins.” We were not prompted to change it — this was not a jumbotron moment. Instead, the desire to claim our city flowed from all of us. The chants all night were the same. Added to the mix was — “We are Boston.” All of our voices were to the same effect: you can take shots at us, but they’ll miss. This is a strong community and our pride in the city is deep, diverse and vibrant.
We were knocked down on Monday, but we are already standing and we are, if anything, stronger. Our hearts are united in caring for the victims, and our voices are loud in defense of our city — our home.