Let me begin with full disclosure: My wife was brutally murdered in 2006, so I know first-hand what devastating shock and grief feels like. As such, the horrific tragedy in Boston this week conjures up my own profound sense of loss and anger. Besides, my daughter lives there. Perhaps by luck or fate she was thankfully nowhere near the deadly Marathon bombings.
I have nothing but sadness and empathy for the city, its citizens and for the families of those who lost their lives, their limbs, their innocence. That America once again has fallen victim to such reprehensible, violent acts of pure cowardice is yet another painful reminder of our new reality. Like New York, Washington and Pennsylvania in 2001, I suspect Boston, and it's tough, gritty, proud residents, will bounce back strongly and with great patriotic fervor.
I watched the incredible demonstration of such patriotism at Wednesday's Boston Bruins game as 20,000 emotional fans delivered a roaring rendition of our national anthem...sending goosebumps, chills and tears throughout TD Garden and living rooms everywhere. Americans, in time of such great tragedy, can be truly awe-inspiring in their unity and resolve. But is that enough? Is it enough to belt out the national anthem for a few days and then return to business as usual? Is that the best, most meaningful representation of patriotism we can harness?
It's been four months since the horrific Sandy Hook school massacre and, as shamefully evidenced in the U.S. Senate this week, we're still without any new gun control measures. Furthermore, we live in a country where certain groups still seek to deny rights to minorities, women and gays. Our national anthem stands for freedom. Our Pledge of Allegiance promises with liberty and justice for all. To voice these words should be to believe them.
To be sure, it's terribly easy for any of us to get swept up by emotion, frustration and anger and voice it all through these patriotic verses....and then be done with it. But the real commitment, the real effort, the real showing of empathy and concern for our fellow citizens must come the next day, the day after that, and the days, weeks, months and years that follow. It can't be done in one 90-second chorus. If, as a people, we truly believe in the words behind our national anthem and Pledge, then perhaps, when the game's over, we should do whatever is humanly possibly to protect our citizens from further violence and discrimination by pushing for meaningful legislation and outreach.