Boston Strong: Reflections of a Native Son

The phone *buzz*ed and my first thought was to ignore it, another text message.

Perhaps a semi important message, or a crude joke forwarded by friends. I was sitting at my desk, knee deep in work. It was Monday, Patriots Day to be exact.

Growing up in Boston, this has always been a day I love. We celebrate the wonderful Patriots (not the football team, this time) who sacrificed, fought, and died for our freedoms and liberty. I have been to the early morning reenactment of “The Shot Heard Round the World” on Lexington green. The Red Sox play the Patriots Day game, a traditional late morning start which I have enjoyed in person a few times. I am almost as big of a fan of the Sox as I am of Liberty and our nation.

Finally, the Boston Marathon. The streets are packed from Hopkington MA into Copley Square in Downtown Boston. I don’t run, in fact I hate it. I despise running long distances, always have and always will. I have watched some or all of the marathon for as long as I can remember. I’ve been to the finish line a couple of times during the race (I remember being a crazy kid joking with my friend I wanted to pull a Rosie Ruiz), and was amazed at the athletes as they crossed.

Not the people that do it for the living, but the average folks who train around work, family, friends, illness, vacations etc. — all of whom run for personal satisfaction. People Like Local Hero’s Team Hoyt and Johnny Kelly. This day sums up Boston to me. The character of the city, the grit of the people, the birthplace of our freedoms. Even as a conservative commentator and talk show host, I say it all the time “I Love That Dirty Water,” Boston is my home.

I know it is run by liberals, and one of the most progressive places on the map. Still I love it. I was born and raised there. I have walked the freedom trail, I have stood in Faniuel Hall, The Old North Church and The U.S.S. Constitution. I have been to the Boston Massacre site and the Tea Party Ships.

Boston is in my soul.

The people, the places and the history very much make up who I am today. I miss it. I miss my family and friends the most. They are all there for the most part, and I think of that often in my day to day life. I am now in California for numerous reasons, but I will always call Boston “home”.

The phone Buzzed again, and again. Finally, I checked it. 7 text messages “Turn on News, something happened” was the first one from a friend of the show. I have learned recently doing the talk show, something ALWAYS happens it seems. We are inundated with new briefs, updates, breaking stories about everything from disaster, celebrity dating breakups, who got kicked off the island and more.

I read the second one from a friend, “Dood (intentionally misspelled) turn on the F*@king news NOW, something blew up at the marathon”. I read it again, while 4 or 5 other phone notifications came in. I didn’t think “explosion” right away. I honestly thought it was a slang text term for fight at first glance. Then, my brain said something to the effect of “hey stupid, 14 texts and alerts turn on the news” and I proceeded to scramble to open the webpage on my computer at my desk.

The first thing I saw was the camera jumping back and forth, showing the carnage. Then they quickly replayed the explosion itself. As I watched it, I stood up at my desk, wanting to punch the screen and yell. I was furious. As I watched the detonation, the fireball, the smoke, the barricades getting blown into the street and one runner in particular who seemed to bend backwards and fall, I was filled with rage.

“Who in the hell? WHY, HOW?” I have only been that angry once before: September 11, 2001.

Sure I had been angry numerous times before and after, but it was a different anger on 9/11. Something personal, almost primal. Growing up in Boston, I despised New York City. It was this weird thing you have growing up there, mostly sports related. Home of the Yankees, Jets, Giants and Rangers, you had a chip on your shoulder about New York City. As I got older and visited NYC a few times, I learned there was far more to the city, but there was still that “healthy competition”.

That is, until 9/11 when that all changed. I learned how little sports meant in the big picture. I sat and watched United 175 strike the South Tower live. I saw “ground zero” in person, with smoke still rising. I witnessed the amazing resilience of an amazing city. The people of New York showed the courage and tenacity that makes that city thrive, and I am to this day humbled by that. I had very limited information early on, and I know the events on 9/11 led to the murder of thousands of more people. But at the time, I didn’t know anything.

Snapping out of my anger and recollections, I started dialing all my friends back home. My phone wouldn’t work. I was getting texts, but couldn’t make calls? Then it dawned on me: cell tower overload. I still have a Boston area code even though I am on the west coast now (think I have a hard time letting go? I agree. I do). I turned my attention back to the live feed.

I was beyond mad by that time, and then I saw what makes Boston amazing. Hundreds of people that could easily have standing right where the blast took place. They were tending to victims of the attack. Not just Police Officers, Fire Fighters and Medics, but every day people. Standing in a place that just exploded, without any thought that it could happen again, caring for total strangers in the time of need.

I sat down for a second and stared. I saw a report of the 2nd explosion that was up the street. I was certain that this was some sort of terrorist attack. 2 explosions, 10 seconds apart, 100 yards apart at the finish line of the Marathon, where hundreds were expected to be. A short time after Fenway Park let out from the Red Sox. There were literally hundreds of thousands of people there. This was deliberate.

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