BOSTON (AP) — Survivors, first responders and relatives 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 the city’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. 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.
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 the evening, after the tributes were over and most people had left, police evacuated the area around the finish line to investigate two unattended backpacks and took a man into custody. They said the bomb squad detonated the backpacks as a precaution, but there was no immediate word on what was in them.
In Washington, President Barack Obama observed the anniversary of last year’s deadly marathon attack 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 April 21, will “show the world the meaning of Boston Strong as a city chooses to run again.”
Authorities say two ethnic Chechen brothers who lived in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and the Dagestan region of Russia planned and orchestrated the attack with two bombs in backpacks near the marathon finish line on April 15, 2013. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died following a shootout with police days after the bombings.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, has pleaded not guilty to 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 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 in which he was found hiding following the police shootout.