Obama tells Boston, nation: ‘We will finish the race’
President Obama vowed Thursday that Americans will move beyond the Boston Marathon bomb attack by bringing the perpetrators to justice -- and by refusing to live in fear.
“Yes, we will find you, and yes, you will face justice,” Obama said. “But more than that, our fidelity to our way of life, to our free and open society, will only grow stronger.”
Speaking at an interfaith service in Boston, Obama compared the country to the marathon runner in the orange tank top so clearly visible in video of Monday’s first blast, shown over and again in news coverage of the attack.
“We may be momentarily knocked off our feet,” Obama said. “But we’ll pick ourselves up. We’ll keep going. We will finish the race.”
As he often does in the wake of national tragedy, Obama talked about the injured and the dead, focusing on three bystanders killed in the blast zone on the final stretch of the race route.
But he also addressed the confusion and fear raised by the renewed specter of terrorism on U.S. soil in the days since the attack.
The president was joined by hundreds inside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, and more filled the streets outside, just a mile from where the bombs went off. In his remarks early in the service, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick offered Boston’s response to the tragedy as an example to the rest of the country.
“We will have accountability without vengeance,” Patrick said. “The grace this tragedy exposed is the best of who we are.”
Those who ran toward the victims, even in the face of danger, are living out the best of American values, said Nasser S. Wedaddy, a director of the American Islamic Congress who recently became a U.S. citizen.
In his naturalization ceremony just a few weeks ago, Wedaddy said, he pledged to defend the U.S. against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to perform work of national importance when needed.
“Now, all of us need to take up this pledge,” he said. “We all have service to perform.”
That, Obama said, is the way to defeat terrorism.
“This doesn’t stop us,” he said. “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. ... We finish the race and we do that because of who we are.”
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