BOSTON – President Obama brought a mixture of reassurance and defiance to Boston today to help heal a city hit hard by terrorist bombs.
“Every one of us stands with you,” the president said at an interfaith service inside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. “Boston may be your hometown – but we claim it, too. … For millions of us what happened on Monday is personal.”
Then Obama’s tone took a more defiant turn toward those who planted the two bombs that exploded near the Boston Marathon’s finish line Monday. “Yes, we will find you. And yes, you will face justice,” Obama said. “We will hold you accountable.”
Calling the event a chance to “mourn and measure our loss,” the president also reaffirmed that Boston’s spirit remains “undaunted and the spirit of this country shall remain undimmed.” He looked ahead to next year’s race, defiantly predicting that “the world will return to this great American city to run even harder and to cheer even louder for the 118th Boston Marathon. Bet on it.”
The audience responded with excited applause.
Other dignitaries attending the service included the first lady Michelle Obama; the president’s former election rival, Mitt Romney; Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick; and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. During an interlude, attendees were soothed by a performance by famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma. About 2,000 people filled the ornate cathedral, The Boston Globe reported, with about half the seats reserved for the public.
Under heavy security, the audience also included scores of police officers and other first responders. After the service as people exited the church, crowds erupted in cheers, while others sang the national anthem. Later, Obama was to meet with families of victims and first responders to the bombings, administration spokesman Josh Earnest said.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, investigators were combing through surveillance video dating to at least a week before the bombings to try to identify anyone who walked the finish-line route before the race, said a source who receives regular updates on the investigation. Authorities were working around-the-clock work to identify two men that a law enforcement source told CNN are pictured in images captured before the blast – not far from the race’s finish line, one of them lugging a black backpack.
It was in such a backpack that investigators believe the bomber or bombers placed explosive devices that killed three and wounded more than 180 Monday toward the end of the Boston Marathon.
“Every hour we’re closer,” Patrick told CNN’s Situation Room on Wednesday. “And I say that because we’ve got the very best professionals at every level working this. And working it hard.”
At Thursday’s service, Boston’s mayor praised each of the three bystanders who were killed in the blasts – Martin Richard, described as a “young boy with a big heart”; Krystle Campbell, whose spirit “brought her to the marathon year after year”; and Lingzu Lu, who “came to the city in search of an education.” (CNN)