6 Days: Boston pays tribute on anniversary

In the 26 days leading up to the Boston Marathon on April 21, ESPNBoston.com will share inspiring stories, detail important logistics and go inside the planning for what promises to be an event like no other in the wake of last year's bombings. There are six days until the race.

BOSTON -- An emotional year of recovery from the Boston Marathon bombings continued Tuesday with a stirring tribute to the victims, survivors and all those who helped the city overcome the tragic events of April 15, 2013.

With the families of the three fatalities of the bombings and the slain MIT police officer sitting in the front row of the event hall at Hynes Convention Center, there were speeches from survivors, dignitaries and elected officials, as well as musical interludes led by the Boston Pops Esplanade and the Boston Children's Chorus.

Later, a ceremony in Copley Square included a moment of silence, a flag raising at the marathon's finish line and the toll of church bells at 2:50 p.m., the moment the first bomb went off one year ago.

The theme was set by the first speaker, the Rev. Liz Walker of Roxbury Presbyterian Church, who began by uttering the words, "There is a rising."

The reference, of course, was to the community's remarkable rise from the ashes as well as each survivor's personal journey from pain and sadness to triumph and resolve.

"There is no way to walk to Boylston Street without being reminded of the evil spilling of precious blood, the hateful strike on a world treasure," Walker said. "But we are also reminded of the amazing capacity of the human spirit to rise in heroism, compassion and sacrifice.

"An ascension of the human spirit, left to its own devices, its divine design, it will rise, despite anything, despite everything."

Walker was the first to reference the four fatalities by name. She touched on the remarkable qualities of Lingzi Lu, Krystle Campbell, Sean Collier and 8-year-old Martin Richard, qualities their loved ones retain in their memories.

Boston Athletic Association executive director Tom Grilk then took the stage to acknowledge first responders, medical professionals, marathon volunteers and elected officials. Grilk had each group stand so that the individuals could be seen and showered with applause in the spirit of the day.

The next rousing ovation came for former mayor Thomas Menino, who memorably left the hospital where he was recovering from surgery on a broken leg to be a part of the immediate recovery a year ago. Menino said that April 15, 2013, will forever be a difficult day but that the community he adores will always be strong.

"Although the memories still bring tears to our eyes, our heart aches for those who were lost, it still is a comfort to be here with family and friends who got us through that tragic day," Menino said.

Menino called the area around the finish line a "broken place" but one that brought out the greatest qualities in Bostonians.

"That strength thrives ... because of the compassion that resides in this city, the generosity that resides in our people," he said. "It's the heartbeat of Boston. It's a mighty force."

Menino later took a moment to poke fun at his manner of speaking, which has caused some to strain to hear him over the years. He wondered if that, along with the hearing loss sustained by some of those near the blasts, would make his words hard to comprehend.

The former mayor urged the throng to lean in a bit closer, as if leading story time at the local library, and asked them to listen in.

"I want you to hear this solemn promise," he began. "When the lights are dim, know that our support and love for you will never waver. Whatever you have to do to recover and carry on, know that the people of Boston and I are right there by your side."

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