City braces for one-year anniversary of Boston Marathon bombing

Laura York choked up Monday as she toured the Boston Public Library exhibit of mementos for the people who were injured and killed in last year’s Boston Marathon bombing — a collection of T-shirts, signs and hundreds of running shoes left or sent in tribute.

Some of the placards were emblazoned with the slogan that 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed in the attack, had penned in 2012 while studying nonviolence in second grade.

“No more hurting people. Peace,” they read. The photo of the youngster holding that sign went viral after last year’s attack, which killed three people and injured more than 260.

“I think this week is going to be tough for everyone,” said York, who lives in Back Bay not far from the finish line. Last year she watched the race from the site where the second of two bombs exploded but left about 10 minutes before it went off.

Boston and its surroundings braced for an emotional week that begins Tuesday with a large ceremony honoring the victims, first responders, medical personnel and others affected by the attack. It will be a chance to mourn the dead and remember the bloodshed, but also to proclaim that what is perhaps the world’s most famous footrace will continue for a 118th year, and to marvel at the way events have brought this community together.

Thousands of people participated in a Sports Illustrated cover shoot on the streets of Boston Saturday, including survivors of last year's bombing, firefighters, cops and the mayor. (Reuters)

“We’re going to turn it into a moment of unity and perseverance and [strength] as a city,” said Alison Beliveau, 25, of South Boston, who finished a run Monday morning outside Marathon Sports, where the first bomb went off one year ago. “We made it through. We’re going to make it.”

Fundraisers, panel discussions and smaller ceremonies at hospitals and elsewhere will follow, before the marathon itself is run April 21 under heightened security. Organizers have expanded the field to 36,000 to accommodate 5,600 runners who were halted by the bombings and others affected by the blasts. Instead of a half-million spectators, the Boston Athletic Association expects about 1 million to line the marathon route from Hopkinton to Boston.

Those crowds will be thickest at the finish line on Boylston Street, a hallowed place for distance runners, where on Monday workers scurried to finish preparations. After the speeches at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center Tuesday, survivors will walk to the finish line to observe a moment of silence at the instant the bombs exploded, 2:49 p.m.

Tuesday “is really going to be a chance for everyone to get together and connect on the events of last year,” said Dan Darcy, brand manager for Marathon Sports, whose employees rushed to the aid of victims on the sidewalk with tourniquets and clothing used as bandages from inside the store.

“People are really excited for this race to happen,” he added. “It’s a chance to move on from last year.”

Brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are accused of carrying out the attack as well as the slaying days later of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer during the manhunt. Tamerlan was killed during a shootout with police, and his younger brother was captured, wounded and bleeding, in suburban Watertown five days after the bombings. He faces the death penalty if convicted of some of the charges against him.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that a wide majority of Americans approve of the federal government’ s handling of investigations into the bombing, and that most also approve of broader U.S. anti-terrorism efforts.

Northeastern residents offer the strongest praise, with 74 percent approving of investigations that led to the killing of Tamerlan and the capture of his brother.

Among all Americans, 67 percent approve of federal authorities’ performance, while 27 percent disapprove, with most in every major demographic group surveyed approving of the government investigation.

The poll also finds that 58 percent express favorable impressions of U.S. actions to prevent terrorist attacks on American soil, while 38 percent have unfavorable reactions. About three-quarters of Democrats give positive reviews, compared with about half of independents and Republicans.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick (D), who will speak at Tuesday’s ceremony along with Vice President Biden and others, said in an interview Monday that “so much of what happened brought us together.

“It made a difference for us in the moment. It also has made a difference to us in our healing.”

Lenny Bernstein writes the To Your Health blog. He started as an editor on the Post’s National Desk in 2000 and has worked in Metro and Sports.
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