Boston to mark anniversary of marathon bombing

US Vice-President Joe Biden told the crowd: "We respond, we endure, we overcome and we own the finish line"

Boston is marking the anniversary of the deadly bombing at last year's marathon, honouring the dead and lauding the character and strength of the survivors and the city's residents.

US Vice-President Joe Biden told survivors they were an example of "pure courage".

The city's leaders thanked those who saved lives in the frenzied aftermath.

Three people were killed and some 264 injured when two bombs exploded near the finish line at last year's race.

"I know that no memorial, no words, no acts can fully provide the solace that your hearts and soul still yearn to acquire," Mr Biden said at a midday memorial programme. "I hope it eases your grief a little bit."

Participants in Tuesday's ceremonies included representatives from families of the victims, members of the city's fire, police and ambulance services, government agencies and civic organisations.

Dignitaries in attendance included Mr Biden, former Mayor Thomas Menino, current Mayor Martin Walsh, Governor Deval Patrick, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and others.

This year's Boston Marathon is due to take place on 21 April.

'Own' the finish

Tuesday's memorial events began with a wreath-laying ceremony at the site of the explosions, attended by the families of the three bombing victims - Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell and Lu Lingzi.

Crowds braved the rain for the service, as Rajini Vaidyanathan reports

Family of Boston Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard at the finish line for a wreath-laying ceremony in Boston, Massachusetts 15 April 2014 The family of Martin Richard speaks with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick at a wreath-laying ceremony

Relatives of university police officer Sean Collier, who was killed during a manhunt for the suspects, also attended the solemn ceremony.

An invitation-only audience of about 2,500 people gathered at the city's convention centre at midday to remember victims and honour those who responded to the attack.

"This day will always be hard, but this place will always be strong," Mr Menino said. "Even though the memory still brings tears to our eyes and our heart aches for those we have lost, it's a comfort to be here with family and friends who got us through that tragic day."

Several survivors spoke at the event, including Patrick Downes and dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis, both of whom lost their lower left legs in the bombings.

"We should have never met this way, but we are so grateful for each other," Mr Downes said, describing the sense of community that has developed among those who were injured.

The programme finished with remarks from Mr Biden, who said last year, "the whole world witnessed ordinary people doing extraordinary things".

Mr Biden ended the tribute to loud applause: "We are Boston. We are America. We respond. We endure. We overcome, and we own the finish line."

'Enjoy the race'

As the race approaches, officials warned residents and visitors to expect a larger than normal police presence in the city streets.

On Tuesday evening, authorities arrested a man in connection with two backpacks left found unattended near the marathon finish line.

Police reportedly cleared the area as a bomb squad inspected the bags.

Volunteers painted the marathon finish line

But Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said it would be "the Boston Marathon as it has always been".

"Our goal is for everyone to enjoy the race," he said.

City health officials say they have also made preparations to help those affected by the bombings cope with the anniversary.

"The first anniversary of a disaster is always difficult," said Barbara Ferrer, director of the Boston public health commission.

Bombing survivor Marc Fucarile and his family are seeking a new "normal" that is merely difficult but not hideous, Mark Mardell reports from Boston

Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, is due to stand trial in November. He has pleaded not guilty to 30 charges, of which 17 carry the possibility of capital punishment.

Prosecutors allege that he set off two pressure cooker bombs with his older brother Tamerlan, 26, who later died in a police shoot-out.

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