Monday, April 21, 2014

Patriots' Day - 2012-13 Boston Bruins Patrice Bergeron Jersey

Patriots' Day is a civic holiday in Massachusetts that commemorates the anniversary of the first battles of the Revolutionary War, the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. It is observed on the third Monday in April each year when re-enactments of the battles occur at Lexington Green in Lexington and The Old North Bridge in Concord, which includes Paul Revere and William Dawes midnight rides of warning.

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With the day being a holiday for schools, colleges and universities, there are sports related traditions surrounding Patriots' Day. The Boston Red Sox baseball club have been playing a home day game at Fenway Park every year since 1959.

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Fenway Park on Patriots' Day

Also a tradition is the famous Boston Marathon, which has been held annually on Patriots' Day since 1897, making it the oldest continuously running marathon in North America. Originally a local event, the stature of the race has grown over time and it now attracts runners from all over the globe.

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The start of the Boston Marathon

There have been a few notorious incidents in connection with the race, such as Katherine Switzer becoming the first woman to run and finish the race as a registered entrant in 1967, despite women not being allowed to enter the race until 1972. Switzer had deceptively registered for the race as "K. V. Switzer" and had to persevere despite race official Jock Semple trying to rip off her number and eject her from the race when she was recognized as a woman, something which seems so incredibly archaic now that female participation in the race has surpassed the 40% mark. She and Semple would go on to become friends and she would later become a leader in getting the women's marathon into the Olympic Games.

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Katherine Switzer's boyfriend fending off Jock Semple

The other famous scandal concerned Rosie Ruiz, who appeared out of the crowd a half a mile from the finish and ran to "victory" in the female division. Shet was quickly exposed as a fraud due to suspicions about her lack of appearance of exertion, her lack of elite physical fitness, her lack of accurate details about key parts of the race and a lack of evidence of her even being on the course during the majority of the race as well as her highly suspicious 25 minute improvement over her reported time in the New York City Marathon just six months earlier. Ruiz was confirmed as a fraud within eight days, as was her qualifying performance in New York, and Jacqueline Gareau was awarded her rightful victory.

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Rosie Ruiz looking exhausted after her duplicitous run of less than a mile

Those incidents now pale in wake of what happened during the 2013 edition of the Marathon on Patriots' Day one year ago, for that was the day of the Boston Marathon Bombings. The race began at 9:00 AM on April 15th with entrants in the Mobility Impaired Program and continued with the Elite Women beginning at 9:32 AM with the Elite Men at 10 AM. The field consisted of 23,336 competitors from all 50 states and 92 countries.

The women's winner, Rita Jeptoo of Kenya ran a 2:26:25, crossing the finish line at 11:58 AM while the winning male, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia ran a 2:10:22 race to finish at ten minutes past noon.

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The forgotten 2013 winners Jeptoo and Desisa hours before the bombings

Then at 2:50 PM, two explosions of shrapnel filled pressure cookers concealed in backpacks took place near the finish line on Boylston Street 12 seconds and 210 yards apart, killing three spectators, 29 year old restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, young Boston Bruins fan Martin Richard, age 8, and 23 year old Boston University student Lu Lingzi of China and injuring 264 others, with 14 of those requiring amputations of their shattered limbs in addition to those who lost limbs in the explosions.

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The race was halted with 5,000 runners still on the course as the graphic scene unfolded at the finish line, where many became heroes as they rushed to the aid of those hurt in the blasts, many of whom were in critical condition.

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Carlos Arredondo aids the seriously wounded Jeff Bauman

The response to the bombings from the people of Boston was as predictable as it was quick - unified and defiant.

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The Boston Bruins game that night against the Ottawa Senators was postponed and the Boston Celtics basketball game the following night was cancelled. The Bruins did play their scheduled home game against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday, April 17th, which featured an especially emotional rendition of the national anthem.

Three days after the bombing, April 18th, the FBI released photos and videos of two suspects, who were quickly identified as brothers. By the time the day had ended, the pair had killed Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier in an unsuccessful effort to steal Collier's gun. Shorty thereafter, the brothers hijacked an SUV before engaging the police in a ferocious gun battle in the suburb of Watertown. There, the older of the two brothers was shot several times and subsequently run over and dragged by his escaping younger brother in the SUV. The older of the two was pronounced dead at the scene just after midnight on the 19th.

A massive manhunt ensued for the younger of the two, who had abandoned the SUV and escaped on foot. Residents were told to stay indoors while the police conducted a door to door search, as many schools and businesses remained closed, as well as Boston's public transit network.

With the manhunt for the second suspect underway, both the Red Sox and Bruins games on the 19th, as well as the circus, were all postponed as the citizens were encouraged to stay indoors.

On the evening of the 19th after the orders to stay indoors was rescinded, a resident of Watertown noticed the cover on his boat was loose and peered inside. There, he saw a body lying in a pool of blood. He immediately called the police, who quickly surrounded the boat and captured the suspect a short time later, setting off a celebration among the relieved public.

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The spontaneous celebration after the arrest of
the remaining bombing suspect

The Bruins next scheduled game took place on Saturday the 20th versus the Pittsburgh Penguins, with both teams wearing special patches of unity and support, the Bruins with a Boston Strong ribbon in the blue and yellow colors of the Boston Marathon, and the Penguins wearing a "617" patch (Boston's area code). Both sets of jerseys were then auctioned off to raise money to support the victims of the bombings.

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Brad Marchand during the pregame warmups wearing a first responders cap

Today's featured jersey is a 2012-13 Boston Bruins Patrice Bergeron jersey which features the Boston Strong ribbon worn on April 20, 2013 in a show of unity and support for the citizens of Boston.

The alternate jersey worn by the Bruins that night is a prime example of what a third jersey can be. It's modern take on the Bruins original 1920's logo is paired with classic Bruins striping from the Stanley Cup era of the early 1970's finished off with a classic. but slightly modernized font. This highly attractive style jersey has been in used by Boston since the 2008-09 season.

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Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2012-13 Pittsburgh Penguins Chris Kunitz jersey which features the special "617" patch worn in support of their fellow Americans in Boston. This Penguins jersey was first introduced in 2007-08 and remains in use today, one of the more attractive of the new Reebok Edge jersey templates first worn that season.

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Today's first video is the pregame ceremony from the April 20th game when the Bruins hosted the Penguins.

Here is an interview with Arrodondo following his helping the severely wounded Bauman who lost both legs in the blast.

Later, the two men are reunited at Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals later that season as part of the Bruins choosing fans to wave the "Boston Strong" flag prior to the Bruins playoff games that season. It was Arrodondo and Bauman's second appearance at a Bruins game, the first coming earlier while Bauman was still in a wheel chair prior to being fitted with new legs.

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