Boston paused in silence at 2.49pm yesterday to remember the moment a year ago when three people were killed by two bombs that exploded seconds apart near the finishing line of the city's famous marathon.
Family members of the victims Krystle Campbell (29), Chinese student Lu Lingzi (23) and Martin Richard (8) gathered with US vice-president Joe Biden, Boston mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick in Boston to honour them on the first anniversary of the blasts.
The America flag was raised after the moment's silence was observed on Boylston Street, the scene of last year's bombings that also injured more than 260 people including 16 people who lost legs. Irish tenor Ronan Tynan sang "God Bless America" at the rain-soaked memorial.
Seán Collier (27), the university police officer killed three days after the bombings allegedly at the hands of the two men suspected of carrying out the bombings, was also remembered in tributes.
The memorials mark the start of a week of commemorations to remember the victims of the worst terrorist atrocity on US soil since the September 11th, 2001, attacks. The events culminate in the 118th Boston marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon, next Monday.
In a low-key memorial yesterday morning, the victims' families, including Martin Richard's sister Jane, who lost a leg in the explosion, laid wreaths at the scene of the blasts.
"A year of grief and recovery, resilience, courage and strength. You are strong at this broken place," Tom Menino, the popular politician who was mayor at the time of the bombings, told survivors at a memorial service in a city convention centre near the blast sites.
Adrianne Haslet-Davis, who lost part of her left leg in the bombings, said: “No milestone is too small to celebrate. Even walking into a non-handicapped stall for the first time, doing a happy dance.”
President Barack Obama praised Bostonians for showing the spirit that the city was built on – perseverance, freedom and love –in the wake of "unspeakable tragedy".
“The most vivid images from that day were not of smoke and chaos, but of compassion, kindness and strength,” he said.
About 36,000 people will take part in this year’s race, including some who couldn’t finish last year after the blasts.
Surviving bomb suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (20), will stand trial in November on death penalty charges. His brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev (26) was killed after a police shoot-out days after the blasts.
Concluding a speech at yesterday’s memorial, Mr Biden said that the runners would race this year in defiance of terrorism. “We will never yield. We will never cower,” he said.
“America will never, ever, ever stand down,” he shouted.