BOSTON -- Solemn but resolute, this city marked the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings Tuesday by remembering the dead and wounded, acclaiming the heroism of first responders and celebrating a sense of community that has grown in the year since the attack.
"You have become the face of America's resolve, for the whole world to see," Vice President Joe Biden told 2,500 invited guests, including families of four people slain in the bombings and their aftermath. "... People know all about you. They know who you are. They know your pride, they know your courage."
Tom Grilk, executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, which will host the 118th Boston Marathon on Monday, said the slogan the city has adopted since the bombing, "Boston Strong," means "to be borne on by an inner and enduring strength, and it means, above all, that we never, ever give in to anything."
The ceremony at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center launched an emotional week of events commemorating the attack, which killed three people and wounded more than 260. It was followed, in a heavy rain, by a procession down Boylston Street to the marathon finish line. A moment of silence was held at about 2:49 p.m., the moment a year ago when the first bomb went off.
Among the crowd were survivors of the blasts and family members. A year earlier, a similar throng had lined that stretch to cheer for runners. Tuesday, they came under very different circumstances, huddling beneath umbrellas on a somber day. Police and firefighters lined the street and wreaths stood in front of Marathon Sports, the spot where the first of two home-made pressure cooker bombs exploded, and Forum, a restaurant, where the second device went off 12 seconds later.
Bagpipers played as Mr. Biden, Mr. Grilk, Mayor Martin Walsh, former Mayor Thomas Menino and Gov. Deval Patrick stood five abreast watching the ceremony. Church bells rang across the city. A flag was raised to half staff by transit agency police Officer Richard Donohue, who was badly injured during a shootout with the bombing suspects.
Police later evacuated the area around the finish line to investigate two unattended backpacks and took a man into custody. There was no immediate word on what was in the backpacks.
Two brothers, ethnic Chechen immigrants Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, are accused of carrying out last April's bombing on the sidelines of what is perhaps the world's best-known footrace and killing Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier days later, during the manhunt for them.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder of the two, was killed during a shootout with police. His younger brother was captured, wounded and bleeding, hiding in a boat in a suburban Watertown backyard five days after the attack. He faces the death penalty if convicted.
The 118th marathon will be run Monday under heightened security. Organizers have expanded the field to 36,000 to accommodate many of the 5,600 runners who were halted by the bombings and others affected by the blasts. Instead of a half-million spectators, officials expect about 1 million to line the route that winds from Hopkinton through a handful of towns and finishes in downtown Boston.
A pair of brothers who lost their right legs in the attack, Paul and J.P. Norden, and a group of their friends and family, were walking and driving the 26.2-mile route Tuesday.
In a statement, President Barack Obama said: "Today, we remember [victims] Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu, Martin Richard and Sean Collier. And we send our thoughts and prayers to those still struggling to recover. ... Today, we recognize the incredible courage and leadership of so many Bostonians in the wake of unspeakable tragedy."
Since that time, "a year has passed so quickly, and many wounds are yet to heal," the Rev. Liz Walker, pastor at Roxbury Presbyterian Church, told the people assembled for Tuesday's ceremony. "But the city we love has grown stronger."
Associated Press contributed.