Sunday 15 December 2019

Boston marks marathon bombings

Boston Marathon bombing survivor Erika Brannock, and her mother, Carol Downing, at right, walk across the Marathon finish line after a remembrance ceremony in Boston (AP)
Boston Marathon bombing survivor Erika Brannock, and her mother, Carol Downing, at right, walk across the Marathon finish line after a remembrance ceremony in Boston (AP)
Survivors, officials, first responders and guests pause as the flag is raised at the finish line during the tribute on the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings (AP)

Survivors, first responders and family members of those killed came together on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing with solemn ceremonies.

Former Mayor Thomas Menino addressed an invitation-only audience of about 2,500 people gathered at the Hynes Convention Centre, not far from the marathon finish line where three people died and more than 260 others were wounded a year ago.

"This day will always be hard, but this place will always be strong," he said.

In Washington, President Barack Obama planned to observe the anniversary with a private moment of silence at the White House.

"Today, we recognise the incredible courage and leadership of so many Bostonians in the wake of unspeakable tragedy," Mr 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."

Mr 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".

Vice President Joe Biden was in Boston for the ceremony, and he said the courage shown by survivors and those who lost loved ones is an inspiration for other Americans dealing with loss and tragedy. He praised four survivors who spoke before he did and said that though he's not a Boston sports fan, Boston is an incredible city.

"We are Boston. We are America. We respond. We endure. We overcome. And we own the finish line," he concluded, to loud applause.

Earlier in the day, a wreath-laying ceremony drew the families of the three people killed - Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell and Lu Lingzi - as well as relatives of Massachusetts Institute of Technology police Officer Sean Collier, who was killed in the aftermath of the blasts.

Governor Deval Patrick, Mayor Martin J Walsh and Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley were among those who attended the morning ceremony held in a light rain as bagpipes played. Cardinal O'Malley offered a prayer.

The victims were also honored at the Hynes centre, where the survivors who spoke included newlywed Patrick Downes and dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis, both of whom lost their lower left legs in the bombings.

At 2:49 pm, a moment of silence was held at the marathon finish line, to mark the time and place where two bombs exploded last April 15. It was followed by a flag-raising by officer Richard Donohue, who was badly wounded in a shootout with the bombing suspects.

Authorities say two brothers planned and orchestrated the attack and later shot and killed Mr Collier during an attempt to steal his gun. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died following a shootout with police days after the bombings. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges and is awaiting trial. He faces the possibility of the death penalty.

The Tsarnaevs, ethnic Chechens who lived in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and the Dagestan region of Russia, settled outside Boston more than a decade ago after moving to the US as children with their family.

PA Media

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