Note: This piece was written on Sept. 11, 2011
Patricia Donovan and her husband sat by the 9/11 memorial while their two children rubbed charcoal over paper to etch one of the names on the memorial. Each person wore a custom-made white T-shirt with the name “Mark Bavis” ironed on the back.
Bavis, who played ice hockey for Boston University and graduated in 1993, died in the 9/11 attacks. He was Donovan’s second cousin. Donovan said her son, Eddie, who also plays hockey, wears No. 11 in honor of Bavis. Because of Bavis, the Donovans are tied to 9/11 — and sports.
The Donovans were at the Boston Public Garden on Sunday, one of the many 9/11 memorials held in Boston. Despite 9/11’s significance, memorial ceremonies were not the only events taking place across the country, as sporting events occurred throughout the day. Observers and participants of the 9/11trubute at the Boston Public Gardens said they believed that sporting events should be held because it allows the country to move forward.
“It’s supposed to be life. You want to remember the good things that happen, keep life going,” Donovan said, “So to put a stop to everything in the world, that’s not what it’s about.”
Donovan was not the only attendee who was in favor of the NFL and MLB’s decisions to continue playing on the anniversary. Multiple attendees, including those who helped organize the memorial, said sporting events were a positive step for the country.
One of the Boston Police Department officers, Lieutenant William Meade, echoed Donovan’s sentiments. Meade, who arrived at the Boston Public Garden at 5:20 a.m., said he felt honored to be a part of the ceremony and recognized the need for sports as a part of the healing process.
“[The] country has to move forward, as long as we don’t forget the past,” Meade said.
Even though Meade and Donovan thought sports should still go on, not all of the visitors who gazed at the hundreds of American flags planted by families of the victims agreed that sports should share a day with 9/11’s anniversary.
Susie Howard, an observer who wore a red, white and blue T-shirt, was one of those who thought sports should not be played. In addition to the patriotic T-shirt, Howard wore red, white and blue necklaces and looked at the 9/11 memorial as her dog, who was wearing a red, white and blue shirt, sat quietly.
“I would like everything to be closed and have a day of remembrance,” Howard said.
The volunteers of Boston Cares, the organization that helped produce the event, also kept an eye on the memorial, ready to help visitors. Catherine Chan and Molly Brown, two of those volunteers, took a different approach than Howard in their stance on sporting events happened on the 9/11 anniversary.
“It is kind of important and kind of symbolic that stuff like that goes on because, you know, it is okay to be okay, it is okay to live your life,” Brown said.
Chan, who said she helped children etch names onto paper, talked about the 9/11 tributes held at sporting events. Chan said those tributes are respectful and justify the United States holding sporting events on 9/11.
“It also shows that the city is resilient from the tragedy and can grow from it and it’s important to show the terrorists that they’re not deterring us from our lives,” Chan said.
As Chan pointed out, both the NFL and MLB held special pre-game ceremonies to honor 9/11 victims. Various NFL stadiums unfurled a large American Flag on the field in addition to the traditional national anthem rendition.
Donovan’s two children, who never met Mark Bavis, did not hesitate to show off their custom-made T-Shirts. Eddie Donovan also said he is happy that sports are still being played on the anniversary of 9/11.
“Sports is a big thing in our family so it’s great to have sports around,” Patricia Donovan said. “It’s like a distraction of different things that kids can walk away from; go and do sports and be happy with it and forget about what’s going on in the world at the time.”