A year after the Boston Marathon bombings, remembrances of strength, pain and courage

Survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings marked the anniversary with solemn memories, and words of resilience. (Reuters)

A year after a bombing at the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured hundreds more, survivors gathered Tuesday for a ceremony honoring the victims, the first responders, the medical personnel and others affected by the deadly incident and the chaos that followed.

“I know that no memorial, no words, no acts can fully provide the solace that your hearts and soul still yearn to acquire,” Vice President Biden said. “I hope it eases your grief a little bit.”

Biden repeatedly praised the courage of the people who had reached out to take care of one another across the city, saying that Boston had “become the face of America’s resolve” to the world.

“Resilience, courage and strength,” former Boston mayor Thomas Menino said during the event. “Those words have an even greater meaning now because of what you have endured.”

Menino praised the strength of those recovering from the trauma of loss and pain as well as those who ran to the finish line to help others as the smoke and confusion suffused Boylston Street.

“When lights are dim and the cameras go away, know that our support and love for you will never waver….We will stand with you, remember with you and never forget what this day means to you,” Menino said.

People who survived the bombing spoke about the humbling outpouring of support, the kinship felt by people who endured the same pain and the difficulties still faced by survivors.

Patrick Downes said he knows the history of the incident will focus on the devastation and loss. “But I also hope they will tell of the unfailing compassion and the unity that followed,” he said. “We no longer have to think philosophically about the capacity of the human spirit. It is right here in the city of Boston.”

Following the ceremony, a crowd assembled on Boylston Street for a moment of silence at 2:49 p.m., the time the bombs exploded. A year earlier, people had lined the marathon route to cheer and to watch; now, they came under very different circumstances, huddling under umbrellas on a damp and somber day.

The ceremony at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center was one of many tributes on Tuesday, a day which began with a ceremony at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. As Lenny Bernstein reports from Boston, the larger series of tributes and other commemorations will include fundraisers, panel discussions and other events leading up to this year’s marathon on Monday, April 21.

“I’m glad to have this tragedy behind us and the next marathon ahead of us,” said Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

With the next marathon, “this city crosses a threshold in time,” said Tom Grilk, executive director of the Boston Athletic Association. “Next week, we will run again,” he said.

The field of runners has been expanded to 36,000, while the association expects about 1 million to line the marathon route.

“Today, we recognize the incredible courage and leadership of so many Bostonians in the wake of unspeakable tragedy,” President Obama said in a statement Tuesday. “And we offer our deepest gratitude to the courageous firefighters, police officers, medical professionals, runners and spectators who, in an instant, displayed the spirit Boston was built on – perseverance, freedom and love.”

We will bring you live updates from the ceremony as it occurs, so this post will be updated. First published: 11:56 a.m. Last update: 3:02 p.m.

 

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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