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Sports unite a city going through nightmares

It’s hard to understand why people want to cause harm to others. On Monday, April 15, two suspects set off bombs near the finish line at the Boston Marathon.

Lives were lost, hundreds were injured, and a nation was struck at one of its most vulnerable positions: a public event embraced by millions with thousands in attendance on a yearly basis.

Thirteen of the over 20,000 competitors represented Clarksville and thankfully, none of them were harmed.

One of the runners from Clarksville, Luke Thompson, competed in this year’s Boston Marathon for the first time.

A sports reporter for The Leaf-Chronicle, Thompson has been running and taking part in competitions since middle school.

Thankfully, he crossed the finish line 45 minutes before the bombs went off.

Thompson was sitting in a restaurant four blocks away from the bombings, but did not hear them go off from where he was.

“I didn’t hear anything until I received a text from a friend who was watching ESPN asked about the bombings,” Thompson said. “It was hard to believe [the bombings] were real.”

Thompson left the next morning to head back home, but the scene in Boston during the rest of his evening was oddly serene.

“Everything was really quiet,” Thompson said. “When me, my parents and friends went out for dinner, there was no mass panic. Everybody was in their homes glued to their TVs.”

You couldn’t change the channel without hearing someone talk about the events that occurred at the Boston Marathon or see somebody tweeting reports from the scene every few minutes.

As tragedy was felt throughout Boston, professional athletes who played for teams from the city and the fans who lived there responded quickly and profoundly.

On Tuesday, April 16, the day after the bombings, the Boston Red Sox unveiled a logo patch with the letter “B” and the word “STRONG” in all caps under it. And throughout the nation, everyone became supportive, as the phrase “Boston Strong” started to ring in people’s heads in the coming days.

Not long after the bombings occurred, the marathon decided to set up a fund called “One Fund Boston,” which has received more than $26 million dollars in donations from around the globe.

Talk about a staggering number. It is evidence of, not only how well the city of Boston was handling this nightmare, but also of how supportive everyone else who heard about the tragedy was.

Hockey’s Boston Bruins, were the first professional team from Boston to compete two days after the attacks.

Before the game, a sold-out crowd at TD Bank Garden sang the national anthem and chills went through my body as I watched a city sing in unison, standing behind their team, letting them know they weren’t going to be knocked down for long by the tragic events from two days before.

And on Friday, April 19, when the final suspect was apprehended and justice was served, sports fans stood up and cheered as jumbotrons in stadiums throughout the nation showed images of the last suspect being apprehended, thus ending once and for all the long nightmare for all of Boston.

The following day, Saturday, April 20, saw Boston’s most popular sports team, the Red Sox, return to their home field, historic Fenway Park.

Before the game, the city recognized everyone involved in the Boston Marathon, from those who felt the tragedy to those who worked relentlessly to make sure no further harm was done.

The Red Sox wore custom-made home jerseys with the word “Boston” across the front instead of usual “Red Sox.”

I remember the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City and how it struck the nation at its very core.

And what did the people of New York do? They stood behind their teams the Yankees and the Mets and cheered as the Yankees reached the World Series the following month.

People need something to look towards in times like these; they look for hope, a sign, anything that gives them happiness. And for Boston, one of the biggest sports cities in the world, it was their teams they stood behind above all things.

Luke Thompson will not run in next year’s Boston Marathon because he views it as a once in a lifetime experience.

“Being a part of the Boston Marathon was a great experience;” Thompson said. “The Boston Marathon is the pinnacle of all marathons.”

City officials have unanimously said that there will be a Boston Marathon next year, as there should be.

I expect to see more people attend and more runners give it their all as they run for a city struck by tragedy.

Perhaps the most popular song in the city of Boston is Neil Diamond’s classic, “Sweet Caroline,” which has become a seventh-inning stretch tradition at Red Sox games.

Ever since the bombings, fans all around the country have been, as Diamond’s lyrics say, “reachin’ out” to the sports teams and fans of Boston.
Through it all, people will continue to rally behind the city as they have in tragedies past in other cities.

Even though this great New England city may have been knocked down to one knee, it quickly rose, stood united on both feet, and they will recover-because they are “Boston Strong.”

About Sean Atkins, Sports Editor

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