The shoes of 2013 Boston Marathon bombing survivor J.P. Norden read "Boston Strong" as he stands at the finish line on the one-year anniversary of the bombings in Boston, Massachusetts, on Tuesday. Brian Snyder / Reuters
Vice-president joins survivors to mark 1 year after marathon attack
US Vice-President Joe Biden, local leaders, officials and survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing shared messages of thanks and defiance on Tuesday at a tribute to the three people killed and the 264 who were wounded in the attack one year ago to the day.
From Biden to Patrick Downes, who lost a leg when a pair of homemade bombs ripped through the crowd at the race's finish line, speakers recalled how police officers, spectators and others on the scene reacted immediately to help the wounded amid the chaos on April 15, 2013.
Former Boston mayor Thomas Menino, who managed the response to the attack near the end of his two decades in office, recalled the struggles of the families of Martin Richard, 8, Krystle Campbell, 29, and Chinese national Lyu Lingzi, 23, who died in the largest mass-casualty attack on US soil since Sept 11, 2001.
"You have struggled to get through the good days and the bad," said Menino, who was in a hospital at the time of the blasts but responded to the scene against his doctor's orders.
"I know because so many of you have told me about this year of firsts. First birthday without your beloved son, first holiday without your daughter, first July 4 where the fireworks scared you."
Downes, who was standing near the finish line with his wife when the bombs went off, causing each to lose a leg, told the crowd of 2,500 people that he had been impressed by the city's outpouring of support for the wounded.
"We would never wish the devastation and pain we have experienced on any of you," Downes said. "However, we do wish that all of you, at some point in your lives, feel as loved as we have every day of this past year."
Following the ceremony, the crowd walked down Boylston Street, the final stretch of the marathon, in heavy rain and high winds to watch officials raise a US flag at the finish line.
At 2:49 pm, the time the first bomb went off, the city observed a moment of silence. Afterward, churches throughout Boston tolled their bells, and ships in the city's harbor sounded their horns.
'Never yielded to fear'
Federal prosecutors contend that two ethnic Chechen brothers placed the pressure-cooker bombs in backpacks at the race's crowded finish line and three days later shot and killed a police officer in an unsuccessful attempt to steal his gun.
Biden, who spoke at a memorial service for the slain officer soon after the attacks, said events like the marathon bombings or the 2001 attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon demonstrated the resolve of average Americans.
"We refuse to bend, refuse to change, refuse to yield to fear," Biden said. "That is what makes us so proud of this city and this state, what makes me so proud to be an American. It's that we have never, ever yielded to fear. Never."
At Tuesday's ceremony, which also featured performances by the Boston Pops orchestra and a youth choir, Roxbury Presbyterian Church Rev. Liz Walker recalled the three people killed in the bombing, as well as the slain Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer, Sean Collier.
"Today we remember Krystle Campbell, her energy and zest, her adventure and passion, a generosity of spirit, a light that will never fade," Walker said. "We remember Lyu Lingzi, heart and sparking eyes, music and guilelessness, a welcome smile that beams forever. ... We remember Martin Richard, tough and competitive, kind and caring, a Dorchester kid through and through. And we remember Sean Collier, dedicated, with honor, trusted and respected."
Before the ceremony, Mayor Martin Walsh and Roman Catholic Cardinal Sean O'Malley, accompanied by the families of those killed in the bombing, began the day on a quiet note, visiting wreaths that had been laid at the spots on Boylston Street where the bombs went off.
This year's Boston Marathon will take place under heightened security on April 21 with the 36,000 runners and tens of thousands of expected spectators facing new restrictions, including bans on carrying backpacks into the race corridor.