Remarks from President Obama, Gov. Patrick and Mayor Menino at Interfaith Service
Apr. 18, 2013
The following remarks at the ‘Healing Our City’ interfaith service were delivered at the South End’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross. The remarks are in the order they were delivered: Mayor Thomas Menino, who rose from his wheelchair to deliver his speech, Gov. Deval Patrick and President Barack Obama. The president later met with Boston Athletic Association volunteers and then left to meet with patients at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Mayor Thomas Menino: ‘Nothing can defeat the heart of this city’
Good morning. And it is a good morning because we are together. We are one Boston. No adversity, no challenge – nothing – can tear down the resilience of this city and its people.
It is written that, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.” And since the clocks struck that fateful hour, love has covered this resilient city. I have never loved it and its people more than I do today. We have never loved it and its people more than we do today.
We love the brave ones who felt the blast and still raced to the smoke. With ringing in their ears, they tugged gates to the ground to answer cries from those in need. This was the courage of our city at work.
We love the fathers and the brothers who took shirts off their backs to stop the bleeding. The mothers and the sisters who cared for the injured. The neighbors and the business owners, the homeowners all across this city, they opened their doors and hearts to the weary and the scared. They said, “What’s mine is yours. We’ll get through this together.” This was the compassion of our city at work.
We have never loved the heroes who wear the uniforms more than we do at this hour.
Boston’s Finest in their blue carried kids to safety and calmed a city in a crisis. The EMTs performed miracles in an instant. Firefighters answered the call. We love the National Guard and our service members who brought valor to our streets. The volunteers in their BAA jackets and vests. And the doctors and the nurses who waited in their scrubs and did not buckle as the victims and their grave injuries arrived. This was the strength of our city at work.
We have never loved the people of the world and our great country more for their prayers and wishes. And yes, we even love New York City more – “Sweet Caroline” playing in Yankee Stadium and our city’s flag flying in Lower Manhattan.
It gives us even more strength to say prayer after prayer for the victims still recovering in the hospitals and at home. It gives us the strength to say good-bye to the young boy with a big heart, Martin Richard. We pray for his sister and mom, his brother and dad. It helps us say that we’ll miss Krystle Campbell and celebrate her spirit that brought her to the marathon year after year. And it prepares us to mourn Lingzi Lu who came to this city in search of an education, but found new friends who will never forget her.
Nothing can defeat the heart of this city. Nothing. Nothing will take us down because we take care of one another. Even with the smell of smoke in the air… blood on the streets… tears in our eyes… we triumphed over that hateful act on Monday afternoon. It is a glorious thing the love and the strength that covers our city. It will push us forward and it will push thousands and thousands and thousands of people across the finish line next year. Because this is Boston, a city with the courage, compassion and strength that knows no bounds.
Gov. Deval Patrick: ‘We will recover and repair’
In my faith tradition, scripture teaches: “In every thing give thanks.” (I Thessalonians 5:18) That isn’t always easy to do. On Monday afternoon, I was not feeling it. What I felt, what so many of us felt then, was shock and confusion and anger.
But the nature of faith, I think, is learning to return to the lessons even when they don’t make sense, when they defy logic. And as I returned to those lessons this week, I found a few things to be thankful for.
I’m thankful for the firefighters and police officers and EMTs who ran towards the blasts, not knowing whether the attack was over – and the volunteers and other civilians who ran to help right alongside them.
I’m thankful for the medical professionals -- from the doctors and trauma nurses to the housekeeping staff, to the surgeon who finished the marathon and kept on running to his operating room -- all of whom performed at their very best.
I’m thankful for the agents from the FBI and the ATF, for the officers from the State Police and Boston PD, for the soldiers from the National Guard and all other law enforcement personnel who both restored order and started the methodical work of piecing together what happened and who’s responsible.
I’m thankful for Mayor Menino, who started Monday morning (applause) frustrated he couldn’t be at the finish line this time, as he always is, and then late that afternoon checked himself out of the hospital to help his city, our city, face down this tragedy.
I’m thankful for those who have given blood to the hospitals, money to the OneFund, and prayers and messages of consolation and encouragement from all over the world.
I’m thankful for the presence and steadfast support of the President and First Lady, our many former governors who are here (applause). I'm thankful for the civic and political leaders who are here today, and for the many, many faith leaders who have ministered to us today and in the days since Monday.
I’m thankful for the lives of Krystle and Lingzi and little Martin, and for the lives of the families who survive them, and for the lives of all the people hurt but who still woke up today with the hope of tomorrow.
And I am thankful, maybe most especially, for the countless numbers of people in this proud City and this storied Commonwealth who, in the aftermath of such senseless violence, let their first instinct be kindness. In a dark hour, so many of you showed so many of us that “darkness cannot drive out darkness,” as Dr. (Martin Luther) King said. “Only light can do that.”
How very strange that the cowardice unleashed on us should come on Marathon day, on Patriots’ Day, a day that marks both the unofficial end of our long winter hibernation and the first battle of the American Revolution. And just as we are taught at times like this not to lose touch with our spiritual faith, let us also not lose touch with our civic faith.
Massachusetts invented America. (applause) And America is not organized the way countries are usually organized. We are not organized around a common language or religion or even culture. We are organized around a handful of civic ideals. And we have defined those ideals, over time and through struggle, as equality, opportunity, freedom and fair play.
An attack on our civic ritual like the Marathon, especially on Patriots’ Day, is an attack on those values. And just as we cannot permit darkness and hate to triumph over our spiritual faith, so we must not permit darkness and hate to triumph over our civic faith. That cannot happen. And it will not. (applause)
So, we will recover and repair. We will grieve our losses and heal. We will rise, and we will endure. We will have accountability, without vengeance. Vigilance, without fear. And we will remember, I hope and pray, long after the buzz of Boylston Street is back and the media has turned its attention elsewhere, that the grace this tragedy exposed is the best of who we are.
Fellow citizens, I am honored (applause) and humbled to welcome our friend, our leader, our commander in chief, the President of the United States.
President Barack Obama: ‘We finish the race’
Scripture tells us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Run with endurance the race that is set before us.
On Monday morning, the sun rose over Boston. The sunlight glistened off the Statehouse dome. In the Common and the Public Garden, spring was in bloom. On this Patriot’s Day, like so many before, fans jumped onto the T to see the Sox at Fenway. In Hopkinton, runners laced up their shoes and set out on a 26.2-mile test of dedication and grit and the human spirit. And across this city, hundreds of thousands of Bostonians lined the streets -- to hand the runners cups of water and to cheer them on.
It was a beautiful day to be in Boston -- a day that explains why a poet once wrote that this town is not just a capital, not just a place. Boston, he said, “is the perfect state of grace.” (Applause.)
And then, in an instant, the day’s beauty was shattered. A celebration became a tragedy. And so we come together to pray, and mourn, and measure our loss. But we also come together today to reclaim that state of grace -- to reaffirm that the spirit of this city is undaunted, and the spirit of this country shall remain undimmed.
To Governor Patrick; Mayor Menino; Cardinal O’Malley and all the faith leaders who are here; Governors Romney, Swift, Weld and Dukakis; members of Congress; and most of all, the people of Boston and the families who’ve lost a piece of your heart. We thank you for your leadership. We thank you for your courage. We thank you for your grace.
I’m here today on behalf of the American people with a simple message: Every one of us has been touched by this attack on your beloved city. Every one of us stands with you.
Because, after all, it’s our beloved city, too. Boston may be your hometown, but we claim it, too. It’s one of America’s iconic cities. It’s one of the world’s great cities. And one of the reasons the world knows Boston so well is that Boston opens its heart to the world.
Over successive generations, you’ve welcomed again and again new arrivals to our shores -- immigrants who constantly reinvigorated this city and this commonwealth and our nation. Every fall, you welcome students from all across America and all across the globe, and every spring you graduate them back into the world -- a Boston diaspora that excels in every field of human endeavor. Year after year, you welcome the greatest talents in the arts and science, research -- you welcome them to your concert halls and your hospitals and your laboratories to exchange ideas and insights that draw this world together.
And every third Monday in April, you welcome people from all around the world to the Hub for friendship and fellowship and healthy competition -- a gathering of men and women of every race and every religion, every shape and every size; a multitude represented by all those flags that flew over the finish line.
So whether folks come here to Boston for just a day, or they stay here for years, they leave with a piece of this town tucked firmly into their hearts. So Boston is your hometown, but we claim it a little bit, too. (Applause.)
I know this because there’s a piece of Boston in me. You welcomed me as a young law student across the river; welcomed Michelle, too. (Applause.) You welcomed me during a convention when I was still a state senator and very few people could pronounce my name right. (Laughter.)
Like you, Michelle and I have walked these streets. Like you, we know these neighborhoods. And like you, in this moment of grief, we join you in saying -- “Boston, you’re my home.” For millions of us, what happened on Monday is personal. It’s personal.
Today our prayers are with the Campbell family of Medford. They're here today. Their daughter, Krystle, was always smiling. Those who knew her said that with her red hair and her freckles and her ever-eager willingness to speak her mind, she was beautiful, sometimes she could be a little noisy, and everybody loved her for it. She would have turned 30 next month. As her mother said through her tears, “This doesn’t make any sense.”
Our prayers are with the Lu family of China, who sent their daughter, Lingzi, to BU so that she could experience all this city has to offer. She was a 23-year-old student, far from home. And in the heartache of her family and friends on both sides of a great ocean, we’re reminded of the humanity that we all share.
Our prayers are with the Richard family of Dorchester -- to Denise and their young daughter, Jane, as they fight to recover. And our hearts are broken for 8-year-old Martin -- with his big smile and bright eyes. His last hours were as perfect as an 8-year-old boy could hope for -- with his family, eating ice cream at a sporting event. And we’re left with two enduring images of this little boy -- forever smiling for his beloved Bruins, and forever expressing a wish he made on a blue poster board: “No more hurting people. Peace.”
No more hurting people. Peace.
Our prayers are with the injured -— so many wounded, some gravely. From their beds, some are surely watching us gather here today. And if you are, know this: As you begin this long journey of recovery, your city is with you. Your commonwealth is with you. Your country is with you. We will all be with you as you learn to stand and walk and, yes, run again. Of that I have no doubt. You will run again. (Applause.) You will run again. (Applause.)
Because that’s what the people of Boston are made of. Your resolve is the greatest rebuke to whoever committed this heinous act. If they sought to intimidate us, to terrorize us, to shake us from those values that Deval described, the values that make us who we are, as Americans -- well, it should be pretty clear by now that they picked the wrong city to do it. (Applause.) Not here in Boston. Not here in Boston. (Applause.)
You’ve shown 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.
Scripture teaches us, “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” And that’s the spirit you’ve displayed in recent days.
When doctors and nurses, police and firefighters and EMTs and Guardsmen run towards explosions to treat the wounded -- that’s discipline.
When exhausted runners, including our troops and veterans -- who never expected to see such carnage on the streets back home -- become first responders themselves, tending to the injured -- that’s real power.
When Bostonians carry 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 -- that’s love.
That’s the message we send to those who carried this out and anyone who would do harm to our people. Yes, we will find you. And, yes, you will face justice. (Applause.) We will find you. We will hold you accountable. But more than that; our fidelity to our way of life -- to our free and open society -- will only grow stronger. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but one of power and love and self-discipline.
Like Bill Iffrig, 78 years old -- the runner in the orange tank top who we all saw get knocked down by the blast -- we may be momentarily knocked off our feet, but we’ll pick ourselves up. We’ll keep going. We will finish the race. (Applause.) In the words of Dick Hoyt, who’s pushed his disabled son, Rick, in 31 Boston Marathons -- “We can’t let something like this stop us.” (Applause.) This doesn’t stop us. (Applause.)
And 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. Even when our heart aches. We summon the strength that maybe we didn’t even know we had, and we carry on. We finish the race. (Applause.) We finish the race. (Applause.)
And we do that because of who we are. And we do that because we know that somewhere around the bend a stranger has a cup of water. Around the bend, somebody is there to boost our spirits. On that toughest mile, just when we think that we’ve hit a wall, someone will be there to cheer us on and pick us up if we fall. We know that. (Applause.)
And that’s what the perpetrators of such senseless violence -- these small, stunted individuals who would destroy instead of build, and think somehow that makes them important -- that’s what they don’t understand. 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 hunker down. That’s why we don’t cower in fear. We carry on. We race. We strive. We build, and we work, and we love -- and we raise our kids to do the same. And we come together to celebrate life, and to walk our cities, and to cheer for our teams. When the Sox and Celtics and Patriots or Bruins are champions again -- to the chagrin of New York and Chicago fans -- (laughter) -- the crowds will gather and watch a parade go down Boylston Street. (Applause.)
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. (Applause.) Bet on it. (Applause.)
Tomorrow, the sun will rise over Boston. Tomorrow, the sun will rise over this country that we love. This special place. This state of grace.
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. (Applause.)