BOSTON – With a moment of silence, the tolling of church bells and a call for kindness, Boston marked the second anniversary of the marathon bombings Wednesday, the emotions clearly still raw from the devastating attack during one of this city's most cherished events.
On Boylston Street, people openly wept and hugged as church bells tolled at 2:49 p.m., the time the first bomb went off at the race's finish line April 15, 2013. "It still feels like yesterday, to be honest," said Aleksander Jonca, a Boston resident who ran the marathon in 2013 and plans to run this year's on Monday.
Large crowds formed at the two roadside spots where the bombs detonated, killing three people and injuring 260 others.
Runners wearing Boston Marathon gear and bystanders with "Boston Strong" shirts fixed their eyes on the commemorative banners that had been revealed in a silent ceremony hours earlier.
"As a mom, I still haven't moved on," said Liz Norden, a Stoneham resident whose two adult sons — J.P. and Paul — each lost a leg in the attack. "I know my boys have moved on. But it's hard."
At the Old South Church near the finish line, hundreds gathered for an interfaith service with Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders who focused on healing.
"We turn now to acknowledge that life goes on," said the Rev. Demetrios Tonias, dean of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Boston. "Living goes on. Our prayers go on. Our grief goes on. But so, too, does our resiliency go on."
Earlier Wednesday, Mayor Marty Walsh, Gov. Charlie Baker and bombing survivors unveiled commemorative banners marking the blast sites on Boylston Street with the plaintive wail of bagpipes in the background.
Elsewhere in the crowd, Jeff Bauman, who lost his legs above the knee in the blasts, exchanged a big hug with Carlos Arredondo, who helped save his life two years ago.
Bauman, who was able to describe to police one of the two brothers accused of carrying out the attack, also threw out the ceremonial first pitch later that day as the Boston Red Sox faced the Washington Nationals.
Next week, the federal death penalty trial of surviving bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev resumes. Jurors will soon decide whether he should be sentenced to life in prison or to death.
Tsarnaev's older brother, Tamerlan, died following a shootout with police days after the attacks.