WBUR

On Marathon Anniversary, Power Of Community Celebrated

Tribute at the Hynes Convention Center. (The Tribute Committee)

“Inside the Hynes Convention Center it felt like we all knew each other,” Alex Ashlock writes. (The Tribute Committee)

BOSTON — I stood in the rain as they raised an American flag at the finish line of the Boston Marathon Tuesday afternoon. There were runners around me wearing their blue and yellow marathon jackets. Some of them sang along during the national anthem.

There was a moment of silence at 2:49 p.m., the moment the first bomb exploded on April 15, 2013. The bells pealed.

The one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon has passed. The day was marked with an emotional tribute event the Hynes Convention Center. The people killed were remembered, along with the survivors and the first responders. “This day will always be hard,” said former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. “It will never be easy to gather so close to that finish line. It will never be easy to be so close to that place where our lives broke apart.”

Many lives broke apart that day. But so many lives have also been put back together. I found myself looking for wheelchairs. There weren’t many. I shook Jeff Bauman’s hand as he walked into the convention center on the two prosthetic legs that have replaced the ones blown off by the first bomb last April.

A young man named Patrick Downes walked to the podium to speak. He and his wife Jessica each lost their left leg in the bombing last year.

“We remember those who died as pieces of us,” he said. “Peace will be their lasting message to us.”

Downes also acknowledged the community that he never wanted to belong to that now embraces him: his fellow survivors.

“We have shared our despair, sense of loss and challenges as well as our hope, gratitude and triumphs. We have been there for each other and we will continue to be there to pick each other up and celebrate milestones for years to come,” he said.

Inside the Hynes Convention Center it felt like we all knew each other, and Gov. Deval Patrick amplified that. “There are no strangers here,” he said. “It all adds up to an enduring example of the power of common cause and of working together and turning to each other when we could easily turn on each other. Indeed the power of love itself. That’s what community is. And I am so so proud to be part of this one.”

Now it’s time to run again.

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