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Bringing out the very best in ourselves

Over one million cheering fans lined the streets of Boston for the big celebration of the Boston Bruins recently winning the Stanley Cup by defeating the Vancouver Canucks.

The huge celebration was about as orderly as anything I've ever seen, a credit to the excited but orderly fans, the Boston police, the mayor and the Bruins players and organization.

They showed the world what professional sports should be about. The players thanked the fans and the fans in return thanked the Bruins players for their passion to the game, and never quit attitude. Several of the players are of Irish descent.

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I was looking at my grandchildren and saying to myself that this is what I expected from all our professional sports teams. I think the Bruins have set new and welcome standards for others to follow. Sports plays a big role in the lives of many young and impressionable people, and the fans deserve positive role models from the athletes, including off the ice, field and court.

Bruins owner Jerry Jacobs deserves a lot of credit for the team's success. I recall meeting with him when I was mayor. For years their had been rumors of the building a new sports complex outside Boston. The Boston Garden was old and obsolete. We met for months until we worked out a proposal for a new home for the Bruins and Celtics. Boston would have a new sports complex, every much as great as our historic city.

The Bruins parade was not the only special event of that day. Thousands of families headed down to the Irish Cultural Center annual summer weekend event just outside the city. The music, Irish football games, food, dancing and celebration continued until early evening.

Good friends and conversations with a cold beer is always a highlight of the festival. Yes, we talked about the Bruins, but I also talked a little politics with friends like Ireland's Consul General, Michael Lonegan, Father John Connolly of St. Brendan's Church in Dorchester, Irish Echo columnist Larry Kirwan, as well as Bill Bailey and the gregarious Seamus Mulligan of the Irish Hit Parade on radio station WROL.

We spoke admiringly about the recently deceased former finance minister Brian Lenihan and how he sang "The West's Awake" with us last year at this very same festival. I told those gathered that the single greatest U.S. contribution to peace in Northern Ireland was the passage of the MacBride principles and that I was proud of the role Boston and the U.S. Conference of Mayors played in the passage of the principles. I also credited Fr. Sean McManus and the Irish National Caucus for their leadership in that campaign.

But the best part of the day took place when I took my grandsons on the children's rides at the festival. My grandson, Braeden, had the time of his young life, so did Flynn Patrick Foley. I saw Braeden's mother smiling from ear to ear watching whatever the name of the fun ride was called. I only remember "the flying horses."

When we climbed out of the ride, Braeden's mother said to me that was the first ride her son has ever been on. You see, this beautiful four-year-old boy is physically handicapped. The Irish bring out the best in us.