BOSTON - US Vice President Joe Biden, local leaders and officials and survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing shared messages of thanks and defiance on Tuesday at a tribute to the three people killed and 264 wounded in the attack exactly one year ago.
From Patrick Downes, who lost a leg when a pair of homemade bombs ripped through the crowd at the race's finish line, to Biden, speakers recalled how police officers, spectators and others on the scene reacted immediately to help the wounded amid the chaos on April 15, 2013.
Former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who managed the response to the attack during the final year of his two decades in office, recalled the struggles of the families of Martin Richard, 8, Krystle Campbell, 29, and Chinese national Lu Lingzi, 23, who died in the largest mass-casualty attack on US soil since September 11, 2001.
"You have struggled to get through the good days and the bad," said Menino, who had been hospitalized at the time of the blasts but responded to the scene against his doctor's orders.
"I know because so many of you have told me about this year of firsts. First birthday without your beloved son, first holiday without your daughter, first July 4 where the fireworks scared you."
Downes, who had been standing near the finish line with his wife when the bombs went off, causing each to lose a leg, told the crowd of about 2,500 people that he had been impressed by the city's outpouring of support for the wounded.
"We would never wish the devastation and pain we have experienced on any of you," Downes said. "However, we do wish that all of you, at some point in your lives, feel as loved as we have every day of this past year."
Following the ceremony, the crowd walked down Boylston Street, the final stretch of the marathon, in heavy rain and high winds to watch officials raise an American flag at the finish line.
At 2:49 p.m. EDT (1849 GMT), the time the first bomb went off, the city observed a moment of silence. Afterwards, churches throughout Boston tolled their bells and ships in the city's harbour sounded their horns.