Church bells tolled at 2:49 p.m. Wednesday to honor the victims killed in the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, hours after Mayor Martin J. Walsh urged residents to mark One Boston Day, the annual observance of the tragedy, with acts of kindness and reflection while remaining apart amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The city’s social-distancing efforts were apparent as bells rang out from the Old South Church located near the marathon finish line on Boylston Street. The normally bustling area was virtually empty, and the timing of the bells coincided with the moment when the bombs went off seven years earlier.
“Resilience is what Boston is all about,” Walsh said during an earlier briefing outside City Hall. “It’s what One Boston Day is all about.”
He also held a moment of silence for the victims who were killed in the attack. The bombings killed 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, 23-year-old Lingzi Lu, and 8-year-old Martin Richard, and the assailants later fatally shot MIT Police Officer Sean Collier while they were at large.
In addition, Boston police Officer Dennis O. Simmonds died in 2014 from complications stemming from injuries he suffered during a confrontation in Watertown days after the blasts between law enforcement and the bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his brother Dzhokhar. Tamerlan was killed in that confrontation, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was later convicted and sentenced to death for his role in the bombings. He’s currently imprisoned and appealing his case.
One Boston Day, Walsh said Wednesday, is “a day of service, reflection, and healing. We honor the victims and survivors with acts of kindness. It’s a day when Boston shines its brightest.”
“I have proclaimed April 15, 2020 as a citywide day of reflection, prayer, and unity,” Walsh added.
An interfaith prayer service was also broadcast Wednesday afternoon on boston.gov and local public access television. “It’s something that many of us need right now to help us get through this difficult time,” Walsh said.
Leaders from Temple Israel Boston, the Archdiocese of Boston, Roxbury Presbyterian Church, Harvard Divinity School, and Jubilee Christian Church joined the service via Zoom.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the archdiocese said the pandemic was "another opportunity for us to be Boston Strong, even as we practice social distancing to protect one another, especially the most vulnerable. ... Easter proclaims that love is stronger than death. May our love in God help us to grow in our awareness of our mission that he has entrusted to us, to make this a better world, to be a human family, to be one Boston.”
As the pandemic disproportionately affects communities of color, the Rev. Liz Walker, from Roxbury Presbyterian Church, struck a tone of resilience, reminding people that systems of inequality are interwoven in US history. But despite the discouraging statistics associated with the virus, she urged people to use their faith to get through the turmoil.
“If you’re sitting in your apartment by yourself or with loved ones, or if you’re like me and you spend a lot of time alone and you listen to the news reports, you may be feeling pretty worthless right now,” Walker said. “But one of my favorite texts in all the Bible is that we are all created in the image of God. We all still have purpose, we all have a reason for being here. … And most importantly, we are loved.”