Boston Mourns A Tragic Anniversary With Voices Of Victims

One year has passed since bombs rocked the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The city honored victims of the tragedy Tuesday with a tribute, including speeches from three of the victims themselves.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. It's been a year since two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. This afternoon, the city observed a moment of silence to mark the blast. It was followed by the ringing of a church bell.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHURCH BELL)

CORNISH: Three people died and dozens were injured at the race. A few days later, as authorities searched for two suspects, an MIT police officer was killed. The four dead were honored today at a tribute just a few blocks from the finish line. NPR correspondent Jeff Brady was there, and he joins us now. And Jeff, start by telling us a little bit more about today's event.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: The clear highlight of the tribute was speeches from three victims of last year's bombing. We heard from 16-year-old David Yepez, who was injured with a torn eardrum, a burned arm and a shrapnel wound in his leg. Also, Patrick Downes; both he and his wife lost legs because of the blast, and he said no one would - he hoped that no one would experience the pain that he's experienced, but he does hope that everyone will experience the love that victims have experienced in the past year.

And there was Adrianne Haslet-Davis, a ballroom dance teacher who lost part of her leg. She told the crowd she hopes April 15 will become a day that everyone works together to make the world a better place.

(SOUNDBITE OF ANNIVERSARY TRIBUTE)

ADRIANNE HASLET-DAVIS: The biggest lesson, of all the lessons that I have learned over this past year, is that something in your life - in anyone's life - can go horrifically, terribly wrong in a matter of seconds. Yet it is up to us to make every single second count after because believe me, they do. Thank you.

(AUDIENCE APPLAUSE)

CORNISH: And Jeff, also in attendance Vice President Joe Biden, correct?

BRADY: Right. The vice president was the last one to speak, and he was clearly struck by the stories from those victims. He called the people who allegedly planted the bombs cowardly terrorists and, as you might expect, we did not hear the names of the brothers who authorities believe are responsible for this attack - Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died in a shootout with police; and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who still faces trial.

Former Boston Mayor Tom Menino also spoke directly to the victims, in fact, and their families. He sympathized with their experiences this past year. For many of them, Mayor Menino said, this was a year of firsts.

TOM MENINO: First birthday without your beloved son, the first holiday without your daughter, the first July 4th where the fireworks scare you, the first step on a new leg, the first sleep without a nightmare, the first day when you believed that you could live your life in a way that corresponded with your dreams.

CORNISH: Jeff, the Boston Marathon always takes place on the Massachusetts holiday Patriot's Day, and this year that means the marathon is actually happening next week. What have you seen of the preparations for that event?

BRADY: This is a city that already is buzzing with pre-marathon activity, and I should mention that Patriot's Day - for those who don't already know that - commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord during the Revolutionary War. But, you know, I'm out here by Copley Square and just looking down the street, I see the bleachers are already up. There's a temporary bridge that's been built over Boylston Street, to mark the finish line. I'm seeing plenty of security around this area for the tribute today; and you can bet there will be a lot of security next week, when the marathon starts, because there's a lot of new rules in place for security.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Jeff Brady, on the line with us from downtown Boston. Jeff, thanks so much.

BRADY: Thank you, Audie.

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