As fans, we often go to sporting events as a way to free our minds from the drags of everyday life and to get away from the stress that so often bogs us down. We sit in the stands with the belief that we will see one of our "heroes" score the big touchdown or the game-winning goal, but on Monday, many of those spectators became the true heroes.
By now we have all been inundated with the images and stories of Monday's tragic bombing that took at least three lives and injured countless others during the annual running of the Boston Marathon.
Monday marked the beloved New England tradition of Patriots' Day, a civic holiday that commemorates the anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. The Boston Marathon has traditionally been run on Patriots' Day and is the world's oldest annual marathon, having begun in 1897.
The Boston Marathon has grown from its infantile stages, when it had just 18 participants in 1897, to now averaging more than 20,000 runners each year. Many train for weeks and months to fight for the chance to win the event, but the majority of the runners are out to set personal goals and, in some cases, help raise money and awareness for various causes and charities.
Shortly before 3 p.m. ET, two blasts went off near the finish line, forever altering the lives of many.
Still images and videos quickly went viral, showing the carnage and terror that ripped through Boylston Street in downtown Boston. Litter and debris were strung up and down the area, with blood painting the sidewalks that just moments earlier were filled with those soaking in the nice day and enjoying the traditions of Patriots' Day.
In just a matter of moments, an event so rich in history and tradition became a circus of uncertainty as some fled the scene in fear of what may happen next while many brave men and women ran toward the smoke and the debris to help their fellow man.
Many videos showed not only police officers and EMTs jumping into the confusion to help others, but also countless other onlookers and citizens who were quick to help those who were injured by getting them out in wheelchairs or even by carrying them to safety.
As a society, we often get caught up in the idolization of the athletes who play for our beloved teams. We place them on a pedestal and call the latest champion, record breaker or MVP our hero.
Children's walls are plastered with posters and images of today's best and brightest "heroes," but Monday afternoon showed us that some of our society's greatest heroes are not the ones lacing up their cleats or driving to the basket, instead, they are the ones that stare tragedy in the face and put themselves at risk to help others.
Monday saw countless heroes leap into action with little to no fear for their own well-being for the sake of others. These heroes will not become household names. Their faces will not be featured on magazine covers around the world nor will they have their own sneaker deals like many of the "heroes" in the sports world do.
Those brave men and women will likely live out the rest of their days in relative obscurity but will always be more heroic than anything ever done on a field or inside a gym.