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Examiner
  • Jeff Fox: Children deserve joy and dreams

  • President Obama said all the right things at the memorial service last week after the Boston Marathon bombings. He spoke to a hurting city and country, and he said the nation’s prayers are with, among others, the families of those killed.

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  • President Obama said all the right things at the memorial service last week after the Boston Marathon bombings. He spoke to a hurting city and country, and he said the nation’s prayers are with, among others, the families of those killed.
    And he talked about the 8-year-old boy, Martin Richard, who died. He was a big Boston Bruins fans. The Bruins have had a good year and might make a nice run in the Stanley Cup playoffs, which start in a few days. Martin no doubt was looking forward to that.
    “His last hours were as perfect as an 8-year-old boy could hope for – with his family, eating ice cream at a sporting event,” the president said.
    As I heard those words, I couldn’t help but think of a day we took my own son, who was 7, to Wrigley Field. It was a good day. He ate three hot dogs, Sammy Sosa – quite the star at the time – hit a home run, and the Cubs came from behind to win. For a kid who likes baseball and sunshine and life itself, that’s close to as good as it gets.
    A couple of years later, we were at a game at Kauffman, and here came “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” At the age of 9 or 10, I guess, there are still moments when they forget about the imperative to be cool and reserved. The fans sang, and we sang, leading to the last line: “For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out” – and now he screams with full enthusiasm and with utter joy on his face – “at the OLD ... BALL ... GA-AME!”
    Sports will occasionally offer up those pure moments. If you take a kid to a game and experience that, cherish it. Life is fleeting, and in the age of terrorism we’ve all become more keenly aware of how the harshness of the world intrudes into the lives of even the young, even 8-year-olds whose main concerns should be learning math and worrying about whether the Bruins will win tonight.
    My son was 9 when Sept. 11 happened, old enough not just to know what happened but also old enough to try to fit some of the pieces together. The U.S. invaded Afghanistan that fall in response to the attacks. My son was worried, persistently worried for a time, that he would grow up and end up being sent there, too. We had long talks.
    That boy turned 21 this week. College student. Eagle Scout. Baseball and hockey fan (my fault). NBA fan (totally not my fault). Mom and Dad are proud. He has grown up in a free country, luckily untouched by terrorism but not the nagging fears about it that tug at all of us.
    How, a father wonders, does that darken the world of young people who have known that nagging fear all their lives?
    Page 2 of 2 - The president went on the other day about little Martin: “And we’re left with two enduring images of this little boy – forever smiling for his beloved Bruins, and forever expressing a wish he made on a blue poster board: ‘No more hurting people. Peace.’”
    It’s a beautiful sentiment. It reflects a purity of spirit still possible when you’re 8. In our better moments, I’d like to think, that purity of spirit is open to the rest of us as well.
    Follow Jeff Fox on Twitter @Jeff_Fox.
     
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