While promising to bring the perpetrators to justice, President Barack Obama spoke boldly Thursday that those injured or frightened by Monday's explosions will undoubtedly "run again", Boston, the "state of grace", will reclaim the "spirit of the city", and the "nation shall remain undimmed."
Speaking before a crowd of 2,000 people, Obama comforted the residents of the Boston diaspora, of which he was a product from Harvard Law school, and reminded them of the perseverance and endurance that so characterized the city at an interfaith prayer service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
Monday's explosions near the finish line of the 117th Boston marathon, world’s elite marathon course, claimed three lives and injured 176 people, some in critical conditions.
“Every one of us stands with you. Because, after all, it’s our beloved city, too,” he said. The president described Boston for having “opened its heart to the world,” in view of the immigrants from the past generations that “reinvigorated this city” and the domestic and international students that came here to study, including himself, who studied at Harvard as a law student, and Michelle Obama. “For millions of us, what happened in Monday is personal.”
The president then paid his tribute to the three victims - 29-year-old Krystel Campbell, Lingzi Lu from China, and 8-year-old Martin Richard – and his respect to those injured in the attack.
Cellist Yo Yo Ma played. (CJ GUNTHER/EPA)
“As you begin this long journey of recovery, your city … your common wealth … your city is with you,” he said. “We will all be with you as you learn to stand and walk and, yes, run again … of that I have no doubt … because that’s what the people of Boston are made of.”
“Your resolve is the greatest rebuke to whoever committed this heinous act,” he said. “You showed us, Boston, that in the face of evil, Americans will lift up what’s good. In the face of cruelty, we will choose compassion. In the face of those who would visit death upon innocents, we will choose to save and to comfort and to heal. We’ll choose friendship. We’ll choose love. Because Scripture teaches us God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.”
Obama then praised the first responders for their “love” to injured and frightened through “tending the injured, carrying the victims in their arms, deliver water and blankets, line up to give blood, open their homes to total strangers, give them rides back to reunite with their families.”
With resolve, the president promised to bring the perpetrator(s) to justice. “Yes, we will find you. And yes, you will face justice. We will find you. We will hold you accountable.”
“Our fidelity to our way of life, for a free and open society, will only grow stronger,” he said. “We will pick ourselves up. We will keep going. We will finish the race.”
Dick Hoyt, who had pushed his disabled son Rick in 31 Boston marathons, was quoted by the president, “We can’t let something like this stop us. This doesn’t stop us.”
“That’s what you’ve taught us, Boston. That’s what you’ve reminded us, to push on, to persevere, to not grow weary, to not get faint even when it hurts,” said Obama. “We do that because we know that somewhere around the bend, a stranger has a cup of water … somebody’s there to boost our spirits. On that toughest mile, just when we think we’ve hit a wall, someone will be there to cheer us on and pick us up if we fall.”
“Our faith in each other, our love for each other, our love for country, our common creed that cuts across whatever superficial differences there may be, that is our power. That’s our strength. That’s why a bomb can’t beat us. That’s why we don’t under hunker down. That’s why we don’t cower in fear.”
Patrons at BoMA restaurant watched President Barack Obama speak across the street from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. (MATT ROURKE/AP)
Speaking of the terrorists, Obama said, “This is what the small stunted individuals who would destroy instead of build and think somehow that makes them important don’t understand.”
“And this time next year on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever and to cheer even louder for the 118th Boston Marathon,” he commanded, followed by sustained applause and cheers. “Bet on it.”
“Scripture tells us to run with endurance the race that is set before us. As we do, may God hold close those who've been taken from us too soon, may he comfort their families and may he continue to watch over these United States of America.”
The South End cathedral was filled to capacity. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Obama, who spoke about 20 minutes, was one of the series of speakers at the service, which lasted for an hour and a half. The other speakers include Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, clergy, and Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
The crowd also included former Massachusetts governors, including Mitt Romney, who challenged Obama in last year’s presidential election.