It was supposed to be a day of celebration. It began with an early morning Red Sox game followed by the conclusion of the 117th running of the Boston Marathon. It was on track to be another successful Patriots’ Day. Then, at the four-hour nine-minute mark of the race, an explosion happened that would claim three lives, leave hundreds wounded and crush any celebration.
That story has been told countless times in the last week, but two days later another event occurred that gave new meaning to Patriots’ Day.
On Wednesday, April 17, the Boston Bruins hockey team hosted the first event of any kind in Boston since the attacks. They were scheduled to play the Monday evening of April 15; however, the National Hockey League regular season game was postponed after the bombings. The opponent was the Buffalo Sabres, who eventually defeated the Bruins, 3-2, in overtime. For one night, however, it didn’t matter to Bostonians that their team lost; that wasn’t important. What was important was that they had a few hours to come together and cheer after seeing one of their traditions marred by the marathon bombings.
The Bruins held a moment of silence for the victims of the bombing and then long-time Boston Garden anthem singer Rene Rancourt took the ice to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” He got only to “What so proudly we hailed,” before the capacity crowd of 18,000 plus began singing the anthem in unison.
It was a stirring moment for a city, long known for its patriotism, as Bostonians sent a message that would resonate in the heart of every American: You can attack us, but you can’t keep us from gathering together to celebrate our freedom.
Bostonians also collectively sang the national anthem before the Bruins’ contest with Pittsburgh on Saturday as well as before the Red Sox’s first home game since the attack on Saturday afternoon.
For those of us who don’t live in Boston, their example is one that should be followed by Americans in other cities. They have long understood the importance of being able to gather for events, both sporting and non-sporting. Bostonians proved this week that no one is going to keep them from joining with other Bostonians to celebrate the institutions of their city.
When they sang the national anthem in unison, not once but three times, they brought it to life better than any lone singer could. Boston is already known for being the city where “The Star-Spangled Banner” was first played during a sporting event in 1918. Now perhaps they will become known as the city where the crowd joined in the face of adversity to sing the anthem as one.
As America has done in the past, it is time to follow Boston’s lead. Whenever Americans gather at an event, they should celebrate the flag by singing the national anthem in unison, without the help of an individual singer. It’s our flag, our anthem; we should sing it with voices raised whenever we are gathered together.
When we sing the national anthem before a sporting event, we not only honor the flag and the country but also the ability to come together without fear and lose our voices for a few hours to cheer on our community’s teams.
It is after times of tragedy that patriotism sees growth. Let us honor Boston and America by following in the footsteps of Boston. They’ve sung the first verse, we should help them finish the song.

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