Tony Lee: Solemn Tributes Mark Anniversary Of Boston Marathon Bombing
An emotional year of recovery from the Boston Marathon bombings culminated with a stirring tribute on Tuesday to the victims, survivors and all those who helped the city overcome the tragic events of April 15, 2013. With the families of the four victims of the bombings and their aftermath sitting in the front row of the event hall at Hynes Convention Center, there were speeches from survivors, dignitaries and elected officials, as well as musical interludes led by the Boston Pops Esplanade and the Boston Children’s Chorus. Later, a ceremony in Copley Square included a moment of silence, a flag-raising at the marathon’s finish line and the toll of church bells at 2:50 p.m., the moment the bombs went off exactly one year ago. The theme was set by the first speaker, Rev. Liz Walker of Roxbury Presbyterian Church, who began by uttering the words, “There is a rising.” The reference, of course, was to the community’s remarkable rise from the ashes, as well as each of the victim’s personal journeys from pain and sadness to triumph and resolve. “There is no way to walk to Boylston Street without being reminded of the evil spilling of precious blood, the hateful strike on a world treasure,” Walker continued. “But we are also reminded of the amazing capacity of the human spirit to rise in heroism, compassion and sacrifice. “An ascension of the human spirit, left to its own devices, its divine design, it will rise, despite anything, despite everything.”
(The Richard family with Mayor Marty Walsh)
Walker was the first to reference the victims by name. She touched on the remarkable qualities of Lingzi Lu, Krystle Campbell, Sean Collier and 8-year-old Martin Richard, qualities their loved ones retain in their memories. “Although the memories still bring tears to our eyes, our heart aches for those who were lost, it still is a comfort to be here with family and friends who got us through that tragic day,” Menino said. “I want you to hear this solemn promise,” he began. “When the lights are dim, know that our support and love for you will never waver. Whatever you have to do to recover and carry on, know that the people of Boston and I are right there by your side.” Others who were injured graced the stage at the convention center, providing some of the more poignant words of the two-hour event.
First up was Patrick Downes, who — along with his wife — lost their left legs in the attack. Downes discussed the “humbling” degree of love that he and fellow survivors have received over the year. He would not wish the trials of recovery on anyone, but sees merit in the triumphs. “We do wish that all of you, at some point in your lives, feel as loved as we have felt over this last year,” Downes said. He also took comfort in knowing, even if only in spirit, the four “guardian angels” that were lost a year ago. “We will carry them in our hearts. To their families, know that you will never be alone. We remember those who died as pieces of us. The intellectual charm of Lingzi. Sean’s commitment to justice. Krystle’s infectious smile. And the childhood charm of Martin. We will choose to think of them not in association with hate, but forever connected to our commitment to peace. “Peace. That will be their lasting message to us.”
As rain fell and wind blew through the Back Bay, hundreds left the convention center and strolled under umbrellas toward the finish line to help reclaim that territory. With law enforcement officials lining Boylston Street and the stands in front of the Boston Public Library packed, relatives of victims emerged — followed by Menino, Biden, Walsh, Patrick and Grilk — and took a spot in front of the finish line. There, they stood at attention in the rain to take in a rendition of “God Bless America” by noted tenor Ronan Tynan. Then came a moment of silence and bells tolled from the Old South Church, steps from the finish line. An American flag was pulled skyward as the crowd sang the national anthem. MBTA transit police officer Richard Donohue Jr. helped raise the flag high above what Menino labeled as “hallowed ground.” Indeed, a year removed from the unthinkable, there was a rising.