From Tragedy to Triumph: Patriots' Day Welcomes New Heroes

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY| I remember waking up on Patriots' Day 2002 in Morgantown, WVa. It was my freshman year at West Virginia University, and I was excited. It was a holiday. Sure, I still had classes but wasn't planning on going to them. Frankly, I didn't expect anyone to be going to them, at least those looking to honor that motley crew of soldiers that helped win our independence.

However, this wasn't the case. Little did I know they didn't celebrate Patriots' Day in West Virginia. Little did I know that nobody celebrates it outside of Maine and Massachusetts (and apparently in Wisconsin on a separate day). Hell, the majority of Americans have probably never even heard of the holiday. But it's huge where I come from.

Patriots' Day is very special for many New Englanders, but nobody more than Bostonians. It's a holiday for the city to honor their ancestors while showing off the city in many ways. The holiday meant to signify the first battles of the Revolutionary War of Lexington and Concord, has become more of a sporting event over the years. The Boston Red Sox have played a home game on Patriots' Day every year since 1959. Typically the Boston Bruins or Boston Celtics play a home game at night as well.

The major event is of course the Boston Marathon, one of the premier events in running every single year. This event attracts folks from across the globe and has over 20,000 runners and 500,000 spectators yearly. Sadly, the marathon was altered forever yesterday after a terrorist attack claimed at least three lives and injured many more. The pictures and videos are heartbreaking and will live in the mind of New Englanders and folks throughout the world for a long, long time.

It was another reminder that we live in an unstable world with seriously unstable individuals. And however safe we may think we are, we sadly just never know.

However, what Patriots' Day 2013 will also be remembered for is what the holiday was truly all about: remembering heroes. Just like those freedom fighters some 230-plus years ago, hundreds, if not thousands stepped up to help those in need.

While most of the photos will be remembered for tragedy, many also show first responders doing what they do best in desperate times. Police rushed into the blast radius to check on innocent bystanders, pulling their sidearms in anticipation. Paramedics were instantly on the scene helping runners and victims. Runners with medical backgrounds, who had already finished the race, jumped right in to aide in the efforts to save lives, even using lanyards as tourniquets. Other runners were finishing 26.2 miles, and immediately heading to Mass General and other hospitals to donate blood. Even former New England Patriot Joe Andruzzi leant his hand in the rescue effort.

Thousands of other Bostonians and citizens of the Commonwealth opened their doors and hearts to runners and spectators that needed somewhere to stay for the night. It's exactly what we should expect in times like this. America may have its flaws, but this country shines its brightest in times of crises.

While the horrifying magnitude of events on Patriots' Day may not be comprehended for some time, it's comforting to know that if it wasn't for many heroic Americans, it could have been infinitely worse.

Heroism comes in many forms. Whether it was in 1775 in Boston or 2013 in Boston, people stepped up to make a difference.

God bless America.

Chris Sedenka is a Yahoo! Contributor in Sports covering the Boston Red Sox.You can listen to his daily radio show on 96.3FM in Portland, ME or at thebigjab.com. He is also the voice of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League.

You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisSedenka.

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