Boston Marathon Tragedy 10 Years Later
In the spring of 2013, Boston experienced an unthinkable tragedy on Marathon Monday. On April 15, two terrorists (Tamerlan & Dzhokhar Tsarnaev) planted homemade bombs that went off 14 yards apart, quickly turning what should have been another triumphant day in the event’s history into days of sheer chaos. Three people died in the explosions. One police officer was killed in a shootout. Over a hundred others suffered injuries, and over a dozen lost limbs.
After days in hiding in which the entire city of Boston was on lockdown, Tamerlan had died. While Dzhokhar was eventually apprehended after engaging in a shootout with police in Watertown, Massachusetts. Dzhokhar was initially given the death penalty, but a court later overturned that judgment.
“This Is Our F***ing City”
The Boston Red Sox returned to Fenway Park for the first time following the tragedy five days later, but they – and their fans – did so with pride and not fear. And at least a portion of the pride they felt that day can be attributed to David Ortiz’s speech to the Boston crowd.
“This jersey that we wear today doesn’t say, Red Sox. It says Boston. We want to thank you, Mayor Menino, Governor Patrick, the whole Police Department for the great job that they did this past week. This is our f***ing city. And nobody’s gonna dictate our freedom. Stay strong.”
The speech was one of those moments in time that almost seemed to transcend sports. It was a rallying cry that no matter how hard someone tries and knock us down; we’ll always get up and keep fighting. Together.
I still vividly recall watching this live on NESN a decade later, where nothing was bleeped out. But to be honest, nobody really gave a damn. The most important thing Ortiz could have done was to bring a large number of people together at that moment in time. Every player on the field was there to help the people of Boston reclaim some sense of normalcy. They weren’t competing for a team or manager; instead, they were competing for a city.
The team’s and the city’s catchphrase for the remainder of the season would be “Boston Strong.” As far as the eye could see, Boston was covered in the logo on hats, shirts, and jerseys. It was more than just a reassurance phrase; it was a way of life that united people.
Giving Boston Something To Celebrate
Yes, the sadness that so many Bostonians felt in April 2013 cannot be undone by any one athlete or team. But later that fall, Ortiz and the Red Sox gave the city something to celebrate—a championship. And an improbable one at that, after finishing 2012 in last place in the AL East.
Ortiz was named the World Series MVP as the Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in six games. In the Fall Classic, Papi hit .688 with two home runs, six RBIs, and a 1.948 OPS. True to form, Big Papi made sure to mention the victims of the bombing during his speech accepting the MVP.
When Ortiz recalls the tragedy, he is still saddened. But as often seemed to be the case, he was able to uplift and inspire others because of his love of and connection to the city of Boston. We thank you, Papi.