The telecast of the Bruins game began with a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston bombings. Rene Rancourt then began to sing the American National Anthem but lowered the microphone after about 2 lines as the intensity of the crowd took over. He took a step back and let the entire arena full of indignant, angry, and fiercely proud Americans, reeling from yet another senseless tragedy, carry the tune in perfect unison, hitting all the high notes and finishing off with a boisterous chant of, "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!"
It was the best national anthem I've ever heard.
Before the coverage turned to the game, the camera focused on a little girl - no more than 7 years old - pumping her fist in the air, chanting for America with all her heart.
We've had more than our fair share of national tragedies, each one unique in its pain. But this time around, my mind can't help but wander back to the morning of September 11. The images of strangers carrying each other down debris-strewn streets. Firefighters and EMTs embracing each other. The audio clips of terrified shrieks as plumes of smoke fill the air.
That fear and electricity in the air of everyone wondering at the same time, "What's going to happen next?"
I was 16 years old, in American history class that morning. We watched the plane hit the 2nd tower on live television. I ran into the hall with my cell phone and called each of my parents, asked if our relatives in New York were okay. I stayed glued to CNN for the next few years. I registered to vote the day I turned 18, visited Ground Zero multiple times, moved to Hempstead, New York for college and began journalism studies. I became obsessed with & completely consumed by the media coverage.
I was changed, we were all changed. Growing up American you're raised with the mantra that everyone loves us, wants to be us. That we're the most powerful, most influential nation in the world, and no one begrudges us that. It isn't snobbery, it's confidence. We're not better than anyone else, we're simply the lucky ones. The land of the free and the home of the brave. We held these truths to be self-evident.
Then September 11 told us otherwise - that perhaps we were more in love with ourselves than the world was with us. 'Death to America' became a commonplace phrase on many foreign news outlets.
Suddenly we owed the world an apology for who we were.
Well, I call bullshit on that.
We're called the United States of America - 50 unique states with our own respective governments, racial and religious demographics, and agendas, yet at the end of the day we all pledge allegiance to the same flag with our hands over our hearts. We're often a nation divided on political, ethical and moral issues, but we're united by our need to lean on each other, acts of heroism in the face of danger, unwavering support of our troops, and a common love of the land.
We're a nation of dreamers, of rags-to-riches success stories, of geographical wonder and rich, dramatic history.