Obama says bombers ‘picked the wrong city’; America will ‘finish the race’

Rachel Rose Hartman
The Ticket

President Barack Obama on Thursday delivered a message in Boston to those in the city touched by Monday's deadly bombings, as well as to individuals worldwide watching the country's response: We will persevere.

“This doesn’t stop us," Obama said at an interfaith service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston's South End held for those killed and injured in the bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line. "And that’s what you’ve taught us, Boston. That’s what you’ve reminded us, to push on. To persevere. To not grow weary. To not get faint. Even when it hurts. Even when our heart aches. We summon the strength that maybe we didn’t even know we had, and we carry on. We finish the race."

To those responsible for the attacks, which killed three and injured more than 170, Obama issued a stern warning: "It should be pretty clear by now that they picked the wrong city to do it," he said. He spoke at length about the city's resolve, and the outpouring of kindness and assistance that grew in the wake of the bombing.

And he reassured the city's residents that they will not recover alone: "Every one of us has been touched by this attack on your beloved city. Every one of us stands with you."

Obama added, "For millions of us, what happened on Monday is personal."

Obama spoke in detail about the victims who lost their lives: 8-year-old Martin Richard of Dorchester, Mass., 23-year-old Lingzi Lu, and 29-year-old Krystle Campbell of Medford, Mass., whose family members met with Obama at the church prior to the start of the service.

He also addressed the wounded watching Thursday's service from their hospital beds, alluding to injuries that left many with severely hurt or missing limbs.

"You will run again. Of that I have no doubt, you will run again," the president said to applause.

And he spoke of next year's marathon, when the "world will return" to Boston with increased vigor, support and energy. “We may be momentarily knocked off our feet, but we’ll pick ourselves up.We’ll keep going. We will finish the race."

The president and first lady Michelle Obama joined some members of Congress, state and local officials and faith leaders for Thursday's service.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick delivered remarks about the city's spirit. "The grace this tragedy exposed is the best of who we are," he said, and cast the city as the embodiment of the country's spirit. "Massachusetts invented America," he proclaimed.

And Boston Mayor Tom Menino spoke at the beginning of the service, highlighting what he called "the courage of our city at work"—men who removed their shirts to staunch bleeding, women who aided the injured, business owners and residents who opened their doors to the wounded and offered their assistance.

"Nothing can defeat the heart of this city," Menino said.

Directly following Thursday's service, the president nearby addressed the Boston Athletic Association of volunteers and told them he was proud of their efforts. "All of you displayed the very best of the American spirit," Obama said. Following tragedy, "we get a chance to see and highlight and appreciate that spirit, and we’ve got to sustain it."

He then traveled to Massachusetts General Hospital to visit with patients, their families and hospital staff.

This post was updated at 12:57 p.m. ET to include the president's remarks following the service.