BOSTON--It seems, at times, that nearly everyone in Boston knew someone who ran in last year's Boston Marathon, who watched it, or who responded to the bombs that went off at the finish line on Boylston Street.
Many of those Bostonians returned to the finish line Tuesday, on the one-year anniversary of the marathon bombings, to observe the moment of silence at 2:49 p.m., to hear the church bells toll, or simply because they couldn't imagine being anywhere else.
Some were inside the Hynes Convention Center, listening to survivors and public officials speak, an invitation-only event that featured the Massachusetts governor and Vice President Joe Biden.
Countless others came to Boylston Street of their own accord, standing in the rain as the city observed a moment of silence.
Greg Soutiea, 30, ran the marathon last year. He had already finished and was walking back toward the finish line when the bombs went off. Friends from his running club were thrown off their feet, and friends of friends were injured.
A year later, he went to work, but couldn't stay. Instead, he met his running team and stood in the rain in his blue-and-yellow 2013 Boston Marathon jacket, listening to bagpipes play at the finish line.
"With the memorial and everything going on today, it was a little harder than anticipated," he said about being at work earlier. He went for a group run near the finish line this morning, and plans to run this year's marathon on Monday.
"From the moment it happened, I knew I was going to be back," Soutiea said.
Noel Deeney lives in Ireland, but his nephew, a Bostonian, watched the marathon last year. Deeney and fellow tourist Anne Marie Walker remember watching the aftermath of the bombings on TV, and decided to observe the moment of silence at the finish line Tuesday rather than spend their last day of vacation touring Boston.
"The tourist things we can do at another time," Deeney said. "This is particularly important thing to be here for."
They stood, with countless others, under umbrellas -- and in Walker’s case, a Red Sox poncho -- as bagpipes played softly. Few could hear what was happening at the finish line, but many said they wanted to be there anyway.
Boston is a small city, and the marathon bombings touched many of its residents. It's a point Gov. Deval Patrick brought up in his speech at the tribute event Tuesday. One of his staffers, for instance, was finishing the marathon and was equidistant between the two bomb sites when the explosions went off, he said.
"We are not strangers. We are in the end one community," he said. "I hope we hold tight to that. I hope that as we remember the dead and encourage the injured, we remember community."
Even the victims were known by many; both Patrick and current Mayor Martin Walsh spoke of Martin Richard, 8, who died in one of the blasts -- the governor has a picture of Martin as a 2-year-old holding a Deval Patrick campaign sign, and Walsh has a picture of himself at a barbecue with the child at a younger age.
But even those victims who didn't know anyone else say they’ve felt the support of this small community over the last year.
"We would never wish the devastation and pain we have experienced on any of you. However, we do wish that all of you, at some point in your lives, feel as loved as we have felt over this last year. It has been the most humbling experience of our lives," said Patrick Downes in his speech in the convention center. He and his wife, Jessica, both lost their left legs below the knee in the bombings.
Former New England Patriots player Joe Andruzzi holds a fundraiser every year at the Forum, the restaurant where the second bomb went off. Last year, he saw the horrors after the bombings, but this year he's holding another event at the Forum on Marathon Monday.
Andruzzi said that it was "eerie" to be driving back to Boylston Street on Tuesday, thinking of what happened last year, but that the tribute was inspiring, too. Many of the survivors have created their own foundations, and Andruzzi, who battled cancer in 2007, said it was inspiring to see survivors not giving up.
"It really shows how you can take a negative, make it a positive, and move forward with your life," he said before the tribute.
Somerville resident Katherine Morceau, 30, didn't know anyone running the marathon, nor did she know anyone hurt in the bombings. But she still came down to the finish line Tuesday to remember the victims and to give thanks it was not worse.
"Instead of [three] people dying it could have been a lot more, like 9/11," she said. "Today, I think about the victims, and think about how much worse it could have been."
The Boston Athletic Assn. says there will be 35,000 participants in Monday's Boston Marathon, making this the second-most crowded running field in the organization's history.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times