Boston bombings: City finds healing in small deeds and interfaith gathering
At a crowded interfaith service three days after the Boston Marathon bombings and to loud applause, President Obama praises Bostonians 'resolve' and 'compassion.'
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She got in line with her friend Kate Gladstein, a Boston resident, at 7:15 a.m. They hoped people would squeeze together inside in order to fit as many people as possible.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Learning from the Boston Marathon bombings
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“The memorial service is a time for people to comfort each other,” said Ms. Gladstein. “I want to show my support as part of the community.”
Danica Blakslee, a student at Northeastern University, arrived at 7:30 for a chance to get in the cathedral. Wearing a yellow marathon volunteer jacket, she stood out in a line that wrapped around several city blocks.
For her, the memorial service was about being respectful to the victims – and to the larger Boston community. When the bombs exploded on Monday, she was standing near the finish line, passing out blankets to runners as they finished.
She described this week, including moments of confusion before she reunited with her mother after the blasts, as “surreal.”
“I came to show that I care ... to show that I would do anything to help,” Ms. Blakslee said.
When the service started, hundreds of people who were not able to get in lingered on the sidewalks and pressed against the police barricades. Nurses, students, and families stood shoulder to shoulder, listening to each other’s experiences and sharing hugs. People brought out smart phones and shared the streaming video of the service with those standing close.
After the meeting, as people exited the cathedral, people cheered as blue-uniformed police and others who had attended walked out. Some broke into spontaneous singing of the national anthem.
Obama and his wife, Michelle, exited the cathedral out a side door, but the president took additional time to thank first responders before leaving Boston.
Referring to the “grit” and compassion they displayed, he said that “when we see that kind of spirit, there’s something about that that's infectious,” Obama said, according to a transcript circulated to reporters. “It makes us all want to be better people…. The key is that we hang on to a little bit of that, because it’s right there under the surface every day.”
Obama’s remarks anchored a service that buoyed Bostonians in numerous ways. Musicians including the Boston Children’s Chorus and cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed.
Mayor Menino won applause with remarks emphasizing that “we have never loved [Boston] more … than we do today.”
Cardinal Sean O’Malley shared a message from Pope Francis to Boston, citing the scriptural guidance not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good.
For many of those attending, the event was moving and truly healing.
“Cathartic” was how James Howard, who works as a technician at Boston Medical Center, described the service afterward.
He said that, after busy days including a 16-hour shift as the marathon victims came in, it was helpful to have a gathering that included joy as well as somberness.
Governor Patrick was among the speakers Thursday who struck both of those emotional chords.
He spoke of the importance of gratitude, even amid tragedy. “I’m thankful for the lives of Krystle [Campbell] and [Lu] Lingzi, and little Martin [Richard]," he said, referring to the three people killed in the explosions.
Hyperbole perhaps. But on this day it was a reminder of traditions of civic strength that are serving the city, and the nation, well.
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