The pews of Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross were packed full Thursday morning as the city held an interfaith service to honor those injured and killed in Monday’s twin bombings at the Boston Marathon. President Barack Obama and the first lady sat front and center next to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. Four former governors also attended the service: Mitt Romney, William F. Weld, Michael S. Dukakis, and Jane M. Swift.
Rev. Liz Walker of Roxberry Presbyterian Church in Roxberry, Mass., opened the service with a prayer referencing Genesis 1:3: “And God said let there be light.” She said Boston is “hard pressed, but not defeated, confounded, but not consumed.”
Fifteen minutes into the service, the organs solemnly began to play, with the choir joining in to sing the hymn “How Can I Keep From Singing?” Other speakers offered their condolences to the people of Boston and the families of the dead and injured.
An hour into the service, the president took the podium. “Scripture tells us to run with endurance the race set before us,” he said. The president described Boston as one of America’s iconic and great cities that has “welcomed again and again new people to our shores.” He referenced his own experience in Boston when he said every American has a piece of Boston with them: “You welcomed me as a young law student across the river. You welcomed Michelle too.”
The President addressed the three families who lost relatives in the attack, although only the Campbell family attended the service. Krystle Campbell would have turned 30 next month. He also addressed the Lingzi family from China, whose 23-year-old daughter Lu, a Boston University student, was killed. Lastly, he recognized the Richard family, describing their son Martin as a big-smiled, bright-eyed 8-year-old.
President Obama said the spirit of the country would remain undaunted in the face of adversity, encouraging Bostonians not to fear: “I have no doubt you will run again. Because that’s what the people of Boston are made of. Your resolve is the greatest rebuke to whoever committed this heinous act.”
Then for the second time, the president directly quoted scripture, referencing 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” After that, he raised his voice to deliver the words that drew the most applause: “This time next year on the third Monday of April, the world will come to these streets again to cheer on and run harder than ever in the 118th Boston Marathon. Bet on it.”