By Denise Lavoie
BOSTON: 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 Washington, President Barack Obama was observing the anniversary with a private moment of silence at the White House.
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.
Tuesday evening police said they took a man into custody in connection with two unattended backpacks found at the finish line.
The bomb squad was checking the backpacks found Tuesday and police cleared the area.
There was no immediate word on what was in the backpacks.
At the tribute, several survivors of the bombing alluded to their injuries but focused on the strength they’ve drawn from fellow survivors, first responders, doctors, nurses and strangers who have offered them support.
“We should never have met this way, but we are so grateful for each other,” said Patrick Downes, a newlywed who was injured along with his wife. Each lost a left leg below the knee in the bombings.
Downes described Boston Strong, the slogan coined after the attack, as a movement that symbolizes the city’s determination to recover. He called the people who died “our guardian angels.”
“We will carry them in our hearts,” he said.
Downes said that on Monday, the day of the marathon, the city will “show the world what Boston represents.” He added, “For our guardian angels, let them hear us roar.”