Fans, accompanied by the stadium organist, sing the national anthem before a baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Kansas City Royals in Boston, Saturday, April 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
BOSTON (AP) — They are six small states, settled before the nation’s birth, wedged between New York, Canada and the Atlantic Ocean: New England.
The region is uniquely defined by its compact geography, its culture and its “sense of place,” as Harvard history professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich put it.
“The mystique that has grown up over the centuries, perpetuated by the invention of celebrations like the ‘First Thanksgiving’ and all the images associated with the Revolution,” she said, “convinced people that there really was something called New England and that it mattered.”
Now, in just a four-month span, a harsh new chapter has been added to that long, distinctive history.
New England scenes have been the backdrop for two body blows of malevolent mass carnage — the Dec. 14 shootings in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15 that killed three people and injured more than 260.
Yet even amid the horror, the nation and world again glimpsed the old New England spirit and solidarity.
The bombings were a reminder of Boston’s role as de facto capital of New England. Its sports teams, most notably the Red Sox, are avidly followed in all six states. Its marathon draws competitors from across the region (and of course far beyond) — and attracts thousands of regional spectators, too. Among the injured visitors was a Rhode Island woman who lost her left foot.
An eight-member group from Newtown competed in the marathon, seeking support for a scholarship fund to benefit siblings of the shooting victims. Before the start, there were 26 seconds of silence in honor of the Connecticut victims, and each mile of the race was dedicated to one of them.
So the pain has been shared — and so has the post-bombing effort to respond resiliently. Members of the Newtown group said they would expand their efforts to also support the bombing victims.
“We’re looking for things to pull us together, and the tragedy gave us a focal point — the more so that it happened at one of our defining regional events,” said Boston University Professor William Moore, a cultural history specialist affiliated with BU’s Login to read more