New England gets one of everything: one team in each major professional sports league; one NASCAR track; one style of clam chowder; one marathon; one city.
Boston isn't just a place for its local inhabitants or even just the state of Massachusetts. Boston is New England's big city; it's our city. When the explosions went off at Monday's Boston Marathon, it wasn't just an attack on the competitors or the locals; it was an attack on all of us.
In today's violent world, there are far too many acts of meaningless terrorism. I hurt, like every American, during the attacks of 9/11, but the locations in New York City and Washington, D.C., made me feel distant. I didn't know anyone that was affected, and, at the age of 15, I had yet to visit either city.
Likewise, I sent my condolences to London when it's Underground was attacked in 2005, but again, there was a feeling of distance. I wasn't insensitive; I simply just didn't have a connection to the grief.
Monday's attacks were on a smaller level from the standpoint of casualties, but the location near Boston's Copley Square made it feel much closer to home. I've walked Boylston Street dozens of times, heading to Boston Common, looking for food, wandering after a Red Sox loss.
Last year, when my girlfriend and I celebrated our first anniversary together, we stayed at the nearby Westin. This is a place I know and love. It is a place where I have memories since I was a little kid. I remember my parents buying tickets to see Blue Man Group at the ticket office in the square when I was about 10. This is my city.
I know that most New Englanders feel a similar way. We take a lot of pride in our little, big city.
We've been this way since the 1770s when we told the British government, on behalf of the colonies, to take a hike: dumping their tea in the ocean, making a midnight ride to rally the troops and taking a stand at Bunker Hill.
In today's world, when it comes to sports, we've become one of the most disliked fan bases in America, not because we're bad people, but because we win a lot and like to remind everyone of our success. When it comes to chowder, we won't even touch the tomato paste with clams that Manhattan serves up. And, when it comes to 26.2-mile runs, the Boston Marathon is America's marathon; it has been since it was first run in 1897, eight years before Chicago and 73 years before New York.
I get this feeling of loyalty from fans of New Hampshire Motor Speedway. I might be one of only a few dozen full-time employees at the track, but thousands of people across New England refer to this place as "our" track. That's what makes our region so great.
Sure, the weather might be terrible 358 days a year. We might sometimes come off as cold and grouchy (I'm blaming that one on the weather). We might get a little overzealous talking about the greatness of Tom Brady or our disdain for Montreal, but we take a lot of pride in this place. It requires a certain disregard for the elements and a disinterest in happening places - like night clubs and 12-screen movie theaters - to grow up in this rural region. We toughed it out, and we're proud of it.
As we've dealt with the immediate aftermath of the explosions, that sense of pride has come to the forefront. Once we got over the initial shock, everyone has rushed to find a way to help. The Red Cross has said that it's already needed to turn away some offers for assistance due to being so overloaded. Former Patriots lineman, Joe Andruzzi, whose charitable foundation had participants in the event, was seen carrying a victim away from the scene. His former teammate, Tedy Bruschi, was also on the scene and able to confirm that everyone running for his group, Tedy's Team, was safe.
In an effort to find those responsible and bring them to justice, numerous amounts of social media content and tips have surfaced. With the public nature of this event and the location of the explosions near the iconic finish line, there is an expectation that the information is out there to find these terrorists. Furthermore, there is a demand from all of us: we will not stand for these atrocities committed against our Boston brethren and our Marathon-related visitors.
Last night, President Obama issued a statement in which he said, "Make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this and we will find out who did this, we will find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice."
Make no mistake about it, Mr. President, justice will be served. Here in Boston, in our city, we remain united as always. Our hearts have been hurt, but our spirit will never die. We shall find these people, we shall bring them to justice and we shall stand as tall as we always have.
This is our city, and no one will take it from us.