BOSTON -- Staff sergeant Joshua Imel stood behind the Red Sox dugout before Monday's Patriots' Day game against the Blue Jays looking out at the Green Monster and the players warming up near Pesky's Pole.
In a little under an hour, Imel would be on the field along with other military members from Hanscom Air Force Base helping support an American flag that would be draped over the Green Monster during the national anthem.
"It is euphoric," Imel said. "Because of what we do on a daily basis as a military member for our nation, and to have the support of everyone here -- it brings a tear to your eye."
The Red Sox celebrated Patriots' Day in grand fashion under sunny skies, with the first pitch coming at 11:05 a.m. ET, but couldn't hold a late lead en route to a 4-3 loss to the Blue Jays.
With Boston Marathon runners passing through Kenmore Square just a few hundred yards away, Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman and actor Jake Gyllenhaal walked on the field to a standing ovation to throw out first pitches. Gyllenhaal will portray Bauman in the upcoming film "Stronger," currently being filmed in Boston.
After David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez caught the pitches, Bauman and Gyllenhaal walked past the dugout, fist bumping players on their way off the field.
During the seventh-inning stretch, U.S. Navy musician Laura Carey performed God Bless America.
"It puts everything in perspective. You have more important things than just baseball," said Red Sox third baseman Travis Shaw, who played in his first Patriots' Day game. "Seeing what they've gone through, they are the heart and soul of this city."
Patriots' Day holds even greater meaning for the city after the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. Three years after the tragic event, the "Boston Strong" movement still resonates throughout the city.
"It is a unique Major League game. It is part of the history of this holiday and the Red Sox's part in it," manager John Farrell said. "No one is going to forget three years ago and the significance of that day and those that were impacted directly."
Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz, who made his third Patriots' Day start, always tries to make memories on this day. Before the contest, Red Sox players were walking around the clubhouse sporting American flag pants that Buchholz bought for them. He finished the day allowing six hits over 6 2/3 scoreless innings.
"I've done this a few times and it's the best I've pitched in any of those games," Buchholz said. "I'm not a morning person, but the atmosphere is great."
Even Blue Jays fans Chuck Clarke and Shaun Mounsteven wanted to take in the ambiance of Fenway Park on Patriots' Day. They drove eight hours from Toronto for their first-ever Patriots' Day experience.
"There is nothing like a ballgame here. It is smaller, intimate," Clarke said. "The fans and experience like this are awesome."
That's exactly why Stephen Paul from East Hartford, Conn., wanted to bring his son Colin to the game.
After the contest, Colin was going to cheer on his mom at the finish line on Boylston Street. He even brought a sign to the game that read, "Go Mommy! Cross the Line."
"Such an aura is around this field, especially on a day like this," Paul said. "I wanted Colin to see this and really take it all in. I wanted him to know all of the greats that have played here. It is an institution.
"Boston is where everything started with this country. A day like this is only right."