President Obama, addressing the crowd at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, tells the people of Boston "your rebuke is the greatest resolve to whoever committed this heinous act."
Three days after bombs shattered its most joyous day, Boston came together Thursday to seek comfort, honor the victims and, in the words of one minister, heal a city and a violence-weary world.
“I have no doubt you will run again. You will run again,” President Barack Obama told an interfaith prayer service, addressing runners who were maimed in the attack on the Boston Marathon. “Your resolve is the greatest rebuke to whoever committed this heinous act.”
To those who thought they could shake American resolve, Obama declared: “It should be pretty clear by now that they picked the wrong city to do it. Not here in Boston. Not here in Boston.”
First lady Michelle Obama, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and other dignitaries also attended the service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, less than a mile from the marathon finish line.
During an interfaith prayer service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston's Mayor Thomas Menino praises the resilience of the city and its people who, with tears in their eyes, "triumphed" over the deadly explosions that shook Boston on Patriots Day.
“We are one Boston,” Mayor Thomas Menino told about 2,000 people gathered there. “No adversity. No challenge. Nothing can tear down the resilience in the heart of the city and its people.”
Rev. Liz Walker of Roxbury Presbyterian Church opened the service with the message of healing. Other speakers sought to reassure a heartbroken city that it would find strength in its grief.
“God has not forsaken Boston,” said the Rev. Roberto Miranda of Congregation León de Judá. “God has not forsaken our nation. He merely weaves a beautiful, bright tapestry of goodness that includes a few dark strands.”
Obama offered prayers for the families of the dead and praised Boston as an open-hearted city, one of the world’s greatest. He also cited personal ties: The president attended law school at Harvard, across the Charles River in Cambridge, and was catapulted to political prominence by a speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
During an interfaith prayer service, President Obama talks about his personal connection to the city of Boston following two deadly blasts, recalling his days studying at Harvard and speaking at the 2004 Democratic National Convention — when he was just a senator with a hard-to-pronounce name.
“Every one of us has been touched by this attack on your beloved city,” Obama said. “Every one of us stands with you. Because after all, it’s our beloved city, too.”
People began lining up as early as 6:30 a.m. to get into the service, in a line stretching 10 blocks, The Boston Globe reported. About half the seats were reserved for police, other first responders and families of victims. Runners, nurses and other well-wishers also turned out.
The service took place while investigators looked for two men they want to question in the blasts, which killed three people and injured 176 on Monday.
Earlier Thursday, Obama met with the family of Krystle Campbell, one of the three people killed in the attack. After the service, Obama went across the street to a high school gym and thanked volunteers, and later to Massachusetts General Hospital to visit patients.
Pete Souza / The White House
President Barack Obama talks with staff at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Mass., April 18, 2013. The President visited the hospital to meet with patients who were wounded in the bombings in Boston, following an interfaith prayer service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
As the city struggled back to life, the Boston Bruins played the first professional sports event since the bombings. During the national anthem, a crowd of more than 17,000 joined in singing, and was cheering and belting out the song by the last lines.
The explosions took place on the most celebrated day on the Boston calendar — Patriots Day, a city holiday commemorating the battles of Lexington and Concord in the American Revolution.
The cathedral was dedicated in 1875. It is led by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, who was considered a candidate for pope earlier this year. At the service, he offered love and support from Pope Francis, and he invoked the runners and race volunteers who rushed to help victims of the blasts.
“The generous and courageous response of so many assures me that there resides in people’s hearts a goodness that is incredibly selfless,” the cardinal said. “Summoned by great events, we can be remarkably committed to the well-being of others, even total strangers.”
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This story was originally published on Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:16 AM EDT