Boston remembers the dead, wounded at first anniversary of marathon bombings
Solemn but resolute, Boston marked the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings yesterday by remembering the dead and wounded, acclaiming the heroism of first responders and celebrating a sense of community that has grown in the year since the attack.
“You have become the face of America’s resolve, for the whole world to see,” Vice President Joe Biden told 2,500 invited guests, including families of four people slain in the bombings and their aftermath. “People know all about you. They know who you are. They know your pride, they know your courage.”
Tom Grilk, executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, which will host the 118th Boston Marathon on Monday, said the slogan the city has adopted since the bombing, “Boston Strong,” means “to be borne on by an inner and enduring strength, and it means, above all, that we never, ever give in to anything.”
The ceremony at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center launched an emotional week of events commemorating the attack, which killed three people and wounded more than 260. It was followed, in a heavy rain, by a procession down Boylston Street to the marathon finish line. A moment of silence was held across the city about 2:49 p.m., the moment a year ago when the first bomb went off.
Bagpipers played and a flag was raised to half-staff as Biden, Grilk, Mayor Marty Walsh, former mayor Thomas Menino and Gov. Deval Patrick stood five abreast watching the ceremony. Church bells rang across the city.
Among the crowd were survivors of the blasts and family members. A year earlier, a similar throng had lined that stretch to cheer for runners. Yesterday, they came under very different circumstances, huddling beneath umbrellas on a somber day.
Police officers and firefighters lined the street, where wreaths stood in front of Marathon Sports, where the first of two home-made pressure cooker bombs exploded, and Forum, a restaurant where the second device went off 12 seconds later.
Two brothers, ethnic Chechen immigrants Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, are accused of carrying out the bombing on the sidelines of what is perhaps the world’s best-known footrace and killing Massachusetts Institute of Technology police Officer Sean Collier days later, during the manhunt for them.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder of the two, was killed during a shootout with the police. His younger brother was captured, wounded and bleeding, hiding in a boat in a suburban Watertown backyard five days after the attack. He faces the death penalty if convicted.
The 118th marathon will be run Monday under heightened security. Organizers have expanded the field to 36,000 to accommodate many of the 5,600 runners who were halted by the bombings and others affected by the blasts. Instead of a half-million spectators, officials expect about a million to line the route that winds from Hopkinton through a handful of towns and finishes in downtown Boston.
A pair of brothers who lost their right legs in the attack, Paul and J.P. Norden, and a group of their friends and family, were walking and driving the 26.2-mile route yesterday.
In a statement, President Obama said, “Today, we remember (victims) Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu, Martin Richard, and Sean Collier. And we send our thoughts and prayers to those still struggling to recover.
“Today, we recognize the incredible courage and leadership of so many Bostonians in the wake of unspeakable tragedy,” Obama added.
Since that time, “a year has passed so quickly, and many wounds are yet to heal,” the Rev. Liz Walker, pastor at Roxbury Presbyterian Church, told the people assembled for yesterday’s ceremony. “But the city we love has grown stronger.”
Patrick, a Democrat, said that “as I see it, ‘Boston Strong’ is about the triumph of community itself.”
“There are no strangers here,” he added. “In the days and weeks after the marathon last year, we were reminded how few degrees of separation there are between us.”
Adrianne Haslet-Davis, a dancer who lost her left foot in the attacks, said that “our survivor community is not something that any of us have chosen to be a part of. Yet we are just that, a community.” Another, Patrick Downes, a newlywed at the time, who lost a leg, as did his wife, said that in the aftermath of the attack, “we chose to love, and that has made all the difference. . . . In the days that followed, we continued to express that love by sewing the threads of community.”
Menino, who is suffering from cancer and walked to the podium with the aid of a cane, offered a “solemn promise” to the survivors and victims’ families.
“When the lights dim and the cameras go away, know that our support and love for you will never waver.”