Niagara Gazette — Please pardon my indulgence, but this is one of those rare columns when it's appropriate to set sports aside for the moment.
Boston has understandably been on everyone's mind since Monday. It's prevalent in today's sports pages, as the Sabres prepare to face the Bruins in Beantown's first sporting event in that city since the bombings at the Boston Marathon. The Red Sox are on the road but their hearts are at home.
Meantime, Americans have offered their prayers and their symbolic shows of support. Just as Americans after the 9/11 attacks symbolically became New Yorkers, many are now taking it upon themselves to symbolically be Bostonians in the wake of that city's attack.
It's easy to become cynical toward those symbolic gestures in this day and age. Indeed, Boston's a long drive from Western New York on the I-90. It's not fair, though, to quickly dismiss these gestures as being smarmy.
Monday's events really do hit close to home. Youngstown's Paul Beatty was there running the Boston Marathon and his family was on hand to cheer him on. Thankfully, they were spared from the worst of the bomb blasts. While growing up, I lived three houses down the street from Rob Klimeczko, who's now in Boston making a living and raising his family. We stay in touch online and he, too, is thankfully OK. So, too, is Beth Pierce, an old family friend, who works not far from JFK Library.
Those latter two examples are just mine among the many, many more connections we have from here to Boston. When you consider those connections, you realize that the thought of being Bostonian for a little while is not just a cliche.
They truly are us, and we are them.
Collectively, we've found the resolve to get through other disasters. But as we both mourn and seek answers to this latest attack on our domestic soil, let's also remember some important lessons from those past tragedies.
Already there are theories and speculation running rampant on the internet and on radio talk shows. Of course we want answers. Of course we want to know who did this, and why. But there's one lesson in particular that I think is important to share — even in a sports column — and it's a good lesson for all of us…
Remember Richard Jewell? He's the man the media essentially convicted, with little credible information, following the bombing in Atlanta's Olympic Park in 1996. He was later exonerated. Even though he got a clean slate, that doesn't return to him the lost time during which his life and reputation were destroyed.
Let's not make that mistake again.
The people of Boston — as well as those here in Western New York who are close to them — deserve that.Follow Michael on Twitter at MrozGazette or email him at email@example.com