by Mu Dong
BOSTON, April 15 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of people Tuesday came together at Boylston Street in central area of Boston, Massachusetts, to mark the first anniversary of the Marathon bombings with silent tribute, church bells tolling and a flag- raising ceremony.
At the finish line in front of the Boston Public library where the two bombings killed three and injured 260 others on last April 15, survivors, first responders and family members of the victims, as well as local residents and Marathon fans from all over the world, braving strong windstorm and dropping temperature, held a moment of silence to honor the victims killed in the tragic event.
"Boston is strong and terroristic events will never win. We will not forget pain, but life must continue," said Kaite Casey, a 38-year-old local woman, who participated in last year's Marathon race and witnessed the disaster.
Casey said she once fell into desperation and refused to run anymore after the bombings. "Now, it overcame, and I am going to run again this year with my daughter," she said.
"And I think our participation and insistence in Marathon match can do help for those who lost their loved ones and who were wounded in the disaster," she added.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who was in Boston for the memorial ceremony, said that the courage shown by survivors and those who lost their loved ones was an inspiration for all Americans dealing with loss and tragedy. He also praised four survivors who spoke at the tribute for showing "pure courage."
"This is the one thing I think you vastly underestimate about what you're doing for so many people in dealing with your own grief with such courage. You inspire them and we owe you for just being back," the Vice President said.
In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama observed the anniversary with a private moment of silence at the White House.
In a statement released by the White House, Obama lauded the first responders for showing "incredible courage" and leadership of so many Bostonians in the wake of the unspeakable tragedy.
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."
Roseann Sdoia, who lost the bottom of her right leg in the bombing, said "I don't think anybody knows what they're capable of doing until you're forced to be in it. And, you know, I think most people would want to get back to normal. I want to be pre-April 15th."
On April 15 last year, shortly before 3 p.m., two pressure- cooker bombs allegedly hidden in backpacks by two brothers of Chechen origin, 26-year old Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his 19-year old brother, Dzhokhar, exploded and sent metal fragments through the crowd of bystanders near the Marathon finish line.
The blasts set off a multi-day manhunt that ended with Tamerlan Tsarnaev dead from a shootout with police and Dzhokhar being arrested in a Boston suburb.
Dzhokhar, who may face death penalty, has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges. He is due to go on trial in November.
The Boston Marathon is the oldest annual marathon in the world and dates back to 1897. Next Monday's Marathon will be held with an expanded field of about 36,000 runners, some 9,000 more than in 2013.
For this year's race, organizers have boosted security, with cameras being installed along the route and thousands of police and hundreds of National Guard troops set to be deployed in the area, according to Tom Grilk, executive director of the Boston Athletic Association.
The runners will include thousands who were forced to stop last year following the explosions and thousands more who want to show their solidarity with Boston.
At least one million spectators, twice the usual crowd, are expected to gather along the course, many of them at the finish line on Boylston Street, the same finish location as last year, the official said.
"You are strong at this broken place," former Mayor Tom Menino of Boston told the crowd, adding "the heartbeat of Boston is a mighty force."