A lone bagpipe pierced the silence of an early gray Saturday morning as survivors and families of those killed and wounded in the Marathon bombings gathered near the finish line to lay wreaths and reflect on the attack that scarred the city — and the nation — a decade ago.
Parents, siblings, and survivors were joined by Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Governor Maura Healey, who followed the cry of the bagpipe down Boylston Street to the first of two memorial sites marking where, exactly 10 years ago, brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev planted two homemade bombs near the Marathon finish line in an act of domestic terrorism.
The explosives detonated 14 seconds apart at 2:49 p.m., injuring hundreds of people and killing three people — Martin Richard, 8, Lingzi Lu, 23, and Krystle Campbell, 29. The brothers also killed MIT policeman Sean Collier on the night of April 18, following their identification by the FBI.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died the morning after Collier’s death during a shootout with police. He was shot several times, then run over by his brother’s stolen getaway car. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found hiding in a boat that evening by police in Watertown and arrested. He was sentenced to death, but his attorneys have appealed multiple times, including as recently as January.
The morning’s memorial ceremony was part of a series of events in honor of One Boston Day, which included a community cleanup at Franklin Park and a finish line remembrance in the afternoon.
Every piece of the memorials, designed by artist Pablo Eduardo, is deeply symbolic. Each of the three granite pillars was taken from a place in Boston that had sentimental value for the person who died.
Richard’s stone came from his beloved Franklin Park, Lu’s was from Boston University, where she studied, and the stone representing Campbell is from Spectacle Island, where she managed the Summer Shack restaurant. The memorial also includes two bronze tiles to commemorate the two police officers who died after the bombing, Collier and Boston police sergeant Dennis “DJ” Simmonds, who died a year after the attack of a head injury caused by a pipe bomb thrown during the Watertown shootout.
Standing proudly in a fluttering white dress and sneakers, Jane Richard, 17, was among the more than a dozen survivors who lost limbs during the attack. The bomb that killed her brother, Martin, took the lower half of her left leg. Hand in hand with her parents, Denise and Bill, at the front of the group, Jane Richard looked somberly at the monument as they approached.
After a moment of contemplation in front of the first wreath, the group walked to the second memorial, about 200 yards away. Heads bowed, mothers and daughters wiped tears from their eyes; husbands and wives gripped hands tightly. Knight Dennis Jordan, the 1-year old nephew of Simmonds, looked up with wondering eyes at his smiling grandmother.
Retired Watertown Police Chief Ed Deveau, who led the 20-hour search for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after his brother died and was among the onlookers, said standing near the finish line on the 10-year anniversary felt different Saturday, “especially with the memorials up.”
Deveau said he comes to the site every year to reflect on what happened and has remained in contact with many of the survivors and victims’ families.
”It’s been 10 years and yet it feels like it was yesterday,” he said. “To get to know the families over the years and see the pain they still have, it’s emotional. It feels like a melting pot of people who were all brought together under the most unfortunate circumstances.”
At the remembrance ceremony Saturday afternoon, throngs flocked to the finish line for a citywide moment of solidarity and celebration of Boston’s resilience.
Music from the Boston Pops and the Boston City Singers Tour Choir rang out through the crowd, as people stopped to photograph the waving flags of the color guard. This year’s Marathon runners, visitors to Boston, and people who were at the Marathon a decade ago stood and listened to a commemorative narration by 2014 Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi, before applauding the first responders who helped so many that day.
Emergency response instructors Brian Pomodoro, 64, and Sejal Vashi, 39, were among those first responders and looked into the crowd a decade later with a particular feeling of reverence and unity.
“I was standing right there,” Pomodoro said, pointing at the pavement ahead of him, “and I just remember feeling like a salmon” swimming upstream.
Pomodoro made the trip from his Pembroke home to the city where he grew up to join old and new friends at the commemoration.
“I just remembered how we all came together, how this day brought together so many people who might never have met, and I felt like I needed to be here today,” he said.
Not far away, Amanda Leck stood near the finish line in a blue Boston Strong T-shirt and recalled standing in almost exactly the same spot 10 years ago, the first time she ever attended the Marathon in person.
“I was originally standing at the finish line and something told me to move back, about 10 minutes before the first bomb went off,” Leck, 44, said. “I’ve always sort of trusted my gut, but that day I really learned what it means to follow your instinct.”
The Beverly resident said she returns nearly every year, “both to remember the people we lost, and also as a way to say that I’m stronger than this, [and] our city is stronger than this.”
But this year, Leck said, “it’s a stronger mix of emotions. Grief and hope, but the hope feels stronger today.”