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Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing

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BOSTON (AP/WJLA) - Survivors, first responders and family members of those killed came together Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing with solemn ceremonies.

Local runners recall bombings

Church bells tolled amid a light rain and a sea of umbrellas, and at 2:49 p.m., a moment of silence fell over the city of Boston. 

"A parent should never have to bury their child," said Bill Campbell, father of one of the victims.

Hundreds were hurt – and are still healing.

"My legs died last April 15th...I'm grieving them...going to take years, but I don't want to be a victim of that," said bombing survivor Celeste Corcoran.

"This day will always be hard, but this place will always be strong," former Mayor Thomas Menino told an invitation-only audience of about 2,500 people gathered at the Hynes Convention Center, not far from the marathon finish line where three people died and more than 260 others were wounded a year ago.

In Washington, President Barack Obama planned to observe the anniversary with a private moment of silence at the White House.

"Today, we recognize the incredible courage and leadership of so many Bostonians in the wake of unspeakable tragedy," Obama said in a statement. "And we offer our deepest gratitude to the courageous firefighters, police officers, medical professionals, runners and spectators who, in an instant, displayed the spirit Boston was built on - perseverance, freedom and love."

Obama said this year's race, scheduled for Monday, will "show the world the meaning of Boston Strong as a city chooses to run again."

D.C. area resident Cindy Walls was a mile from finishing the race with her daughter when the bombs went off.

"I can see it as clearly today as I did a year ago,” she said.

Her husband John was only yards away from the blast, waiting for his loved ones to cross the finish line – and he can recall the vivid scene:

“I can still see the smoke and I can still see the flames in front of me and the smell and the rush of the bombs. They come back in an instant.”

On this one-year anniversary, the marathon-running family is reflective of the somber day.

"We certainly experienced a terribly tragic moment for a lot of people, but at the end of the day, we're okay and that was God's grace letting us be okay," said John Walls.

Cindy, a Boston Marathon veteran, and her daughter were both unable to finish the race – so they will be returning next week to finish what they started.

“I believe it will be stronger than ever -- it will be different and it will be just an awesome day," she said.

Local runner Maria Kozloski had managed to finish the race and heard the explosion from her nearby hotel room. She will also go back to Boston next week to support the city and a race she loves.

"I think it's a different race this year," she said. "The race has a lot more meaning than just going up and running the marathon. It's about going back after everything that happened last year."

Local resident and POLITICO editor Eric Nelson told us that one year ago, ABC7 interviewed him in Massachusetts. He had come to support his wife Colleen, who just finished when the bombs went off. Today's ceremonies bring a sense of sadness for him.

"It brings back all those emotions…the confusion and the chaos after the bombs went off,” he says. “But it's also uplifting because you see how the city and the victims persevered."

"I think that's why everybody's going back – that's part of the reason I'm going back, to say I don't think so,” says Katie Walls.

Vice President Joe Biden was in Boston for the ceremony on Tuesday, and he said the courage shown by survivors and those who lost loved ones is an inspiration for other Americans dealing with loss and tragedy. He praised four survivors who spoke before he did and said that though he's not a Boston sports fan, Boston is an incredible city.

"We have never, ever, ever yielded to fear. Never...We are Boston. We are America. We respond. We endure. We overcome. And we own the finish line," he concluded, to loud applause. 

Earlier in the day, a wreath-laying ceremony drew the families of the three people killed - Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell and Lu Lingzi - as well as relatives of Massachusetts Institute of Technology police Officer Sean Collier, who was killed in the aftermath of the blasts.

Gov. Deval Patrick, Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley were among those who attended the morning ceremony held in a light rain as bagpipes played. O'Malley offered a prayer.

The victims were also honored at the Hynes center, where the survivors who spoke included newlywed Patrick Downes and dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis, both of whom lost their lower left legs in the bombings.

"We should have never met this way, but we are so grateful for each other," Downes said, describing the sense of community that has developed among the survivors.

Carlos Arredondo, the cowboy hat-wearing spectator who was hailed as a hero for helping the wounded after the bombings, said he came to the tribute ceremony to support survivors and their families. Biden also mentioned him.

"You can see how the whole community gathered together to support them and remember," Arredondo told reporters before the program began.

Boston police Commissioner Williams Evans said the anniversary is an emotional day and brings back "some terrible memories."

"Hopefully, today brings the city and the families some sense of comfort and some healing," he said before ceremonies began.

The moment of silence was followed by a flag-raising by officer Richard Donohue, who was badly wounded in a shootout with the bombing suspects.

Authorities say two brothers planned and orchestrated the attack and later shot and killed Collier during an attempt to steal his gun. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died following a shootout with police days after the bombings. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges and is awaiting trial. He faces the possibility of the death penalty.

The Tsarnaevs, ethnic Chechens who lived in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and the Dagestan region of Russia, settled outside Boston in Cambridge more than a decade ago after moving to the U.S. as children with their family.

Prosecutors have said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev left a hand-scrawled confession condemning U.S. actions in Muslim countries on the inside wall of a boat he was found hiding in following the police shootout.

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