By Denise Lavoie, AP
BOSTON–Survivors, first responders and family members of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over Boston’s resilience in the face of a terror attack.
“This day will always be hard, but this place will always be strong,” former Mayor Thomas Menino told an invitation-only audience of about 2,500 people at the Hynes Convention Center, not far from the finish line where three people died and more than 260 others were injured a year ago.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who attended the ceremony, said the courage shown by survivors and those who lost loved ones is an inspiration for other Americans dealing with loss and tragedy.
“You have become the face of America’s resolve,” he said. ‘We own the finish line’ Biden also praised the 36,000 runners who plan to run the marathon next week, saying they will send a message to terrorists.
“America will never, ever, ever stand down,” he said, to loud applause. He added, “We own the finish line.”
In Washington, President Barack Obama was observing the anniversary with a private moment of silence at the White House.
“Today, we recognize the incredible courage and leadership of so many Bostonians in the wake of unspeakable tragedy,” Obama said in a statement. “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.”
Obama said this year’s race, scheduled for Monday, will “show the world the meaning of Boston Strong as a city chooses to run again.”
Authorities say two brothers — ethnic Chechens who lived in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and the Dagestan region of Russia — planned and orchestrated the twin bombings near the marathon finish line on April 15, 2013. Authorities said the bombs were made from pressure cookers packed with explosives, nails and other shrapnel that were concealed in backpacks.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died following a shootout with police several days after the bombings. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges and is awaiting a trial in which he faces a possible death sentence. Prosecutors say the brothers also killed MIT police Officer Sean Collier several days after the bombings in an attempt to steal his gun.
Prosecutors have said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev left a hand-scrawled confession condemning U.S. actions in Muslim countries on the inside wall of a boat he was found hiding in following the police shootout.