A Week After Marathon Bombing, The Mood In Boston

News of the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 made headlines around the world. Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy talks about the significance of the events for himself and fellow Bostonians one week after the attack.

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NEAL CONAN, HOST:

We'd like to take this moment to observe silence, scheduled for 2:50 p.m. Eastern time; which was the moment the explosions started at the end of the Boston Marathon, last Monday. This is from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, in Boston. Let's listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF SILENCE, CHURCH BELLS CHIMING)

CONAN: People around the city of Boston standing, many of them with their heads bowed, to mark the moment exactly one week later since the bomb exploded in Boston, causing three dead and many, many injured. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News.

Last week, when President Obama spoke in Boston at a memorial service just a couple of days after the bombings, he reflected on the importance of sports to Bostonians - and not just the Boston Marathon.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED SPEECH)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We come together to celebrate life, and to walk our cities, and to cheer for our teams. When the Sox and Celtics and Patriots or Bruins are champions again, to the chagrin of New York and Chicago fans...

(AUDIENCE LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: ...the crowds will gather and watch a parade go down Boylston Street...

(AUDIENCE APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ...and this time next year, on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city; to run harder than ever and to cheer even louder for the 118th Boston Marathon.

(AUDIENCE CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

CONAN: President Obama, in Boston last week. Dan Shaughnessy, sports columnist for the Boston Globe, joins us now by phone from New York. Good to have you with us today.

DAN SHAUGHNESSY: Good to be here. Thank you.

CONAN: And it's interesting - so many of the moments that have been so important to many in Boston this past week, have been at Fenway Park and at the hockey rink.

SHAUGHNESSY: Yes. I think, you know, the week was - it was a horrible week in our town the whole week and - starting Monday, at the marathon. Then it seemed like Wednesday night, things lifted a little bit when the Bruins got back on the ice. There had been a postponement of their Monday game; a cancellation of the Celtics' Tuesday game; the Sox were out of town. And when the Bruins said the anthem prior to the game, the crowd picked up the anthem and sang a cappella, and it was a very dramatic moment.

And then the president came to our town on Thursday, and things seemed to be sort of returning to normal. And then, of course, you had the unleashing of all the horrible events of Thursday night into all day Friday; and then back with the Red Sox on Saturday, which really did, I think, bring the first stage of events to a close. And now, of course, the moment of silence is going on in our town, and getting into the next stage.

CONAN: And as you noted in one of your columns, yes, there will be a Boston Marathon next year. But it's going to be a marathon run behind yellow crime scene tape. It's going to be changed.

SHAUGHNESSY: Yes, and - I mean, the way things have - people have responded to what - I think we're going to see a real - a very big event next year, at this time. I think there's going to be a notion to finish the race. A lot of people, literally, never got to the finish line; and I think the people are going to come out in bigger numbers, with more determination. And really, it's going to be a very emotional day when the marathon is held - the 118th marathon, next year. And I sense a lot of patriotism and people really interested in getting back out there, and showing that the town is not beaten by this.

CONAN: You're in New York, I assume, to cover the Celtics-Knicks series?

SHAUGHNESSY: Correct. Yes.

CONAN: OK. You mentioned, though, the big event was in Fenway Park on Saturday, when the Red Sox finally returned home and it was - not finally; it took us all of a week; just coming back from an away series. But it seemed like a long time since they'd been home - and the remarkable presentation before the game.

SHAUGHNESSY: Yeah. That came together, you know, really quickly and very nicely. It was a very tasteful service and recognition. The weird part about that was, they were planning it Thursday. The team was supposed to play at home on Friday night. That was going to be the first night home, but there wasn't closure with the apprehension of the suspects yet. All that stuff happened Thursday into Friday, and the game was postponed Friday. But not until 8:40 on Friday night was anyone aware that the Sox event on Saturday might include that because without the apprehension of the second suspect, I think that nobody was in a mood to have any kind of a recognition, or feel any kind of closure with the event - until all that stuff happened late Friday. And of course, the Sox were on the field in the early afternoon on Saturday.

CONAN: And there was a storybook ending to that ballgame; and a storybook appearance in that game, Dan Shaughnessy, by - well, I guess, the unofficial bard of Boston, Neil Diamond.

SHAUGHNESSY: Yeah. A lot of stuff came together. Dr. Charles Steinberg ran a very nice, tasteful - you know, representation before the game; and victims and first-responders and marathon people throwing out first pitches; and the crowd just really into it. And David Ortiz - amazing remarks, which somehow became a rallying cry as unusual as they were. And then, yeah, Neil Diamond pops out of nowhere, and he's singing "Sweet Caroline" in the bottom of the 8th - after the bottom of the 8th. And people were just, you know, I think, you know, excited and crying and - but the main thing is to, you know, remember the victims. And I think that never goes away - the people that are still in hospitals, still hurting.

CONAN: All right. We're going to listen to Neil Diamond singing against himself on the P.A. system, singing "Sweet Caroline." And Dan Shaughnessy, thanks very much for your time today.

SHAUGHNESSY: Thanks for having me.

CONAN: Dan Shaughnessy, of the Boston Globe.

(SOUNDBITE OF FENWAY PARK PERFORMANCE)

NEIL DIAMOND: (Singing) Sweet Caroline...

FENWAY PARK CROWD: (Singing) Bah-bah-bah...

DIAMOND: (Singing) ....good times never seemed so good...

FENWAY PARK CROWD: (Chanting) So good! So good! So good!

DIAMOND: (Singing) ...I've been inclined...

FENWAY PARK CROWD: (Singing) Bah-bah-bah...

DIAMOND: (Singing) ... to believe they never would.

Yes!

FENWAY PARK CROWD: (CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

DIAMOND: Thank you, everybody! Thank you!

CONAN: Neil Diamond, at Fenway Park last Saturday. Tomorrow, Jennifer Ludden's here. I'll be back with Ken Rudin and the Political Junkie, on Wednesday. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News.

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