Tears, Remembrance at Vigils Across the City
By Gina Curreri and Selin Thomas
BU News Service
Marathoners, community members, students and city leaders gathered on darkened and windy streets, plazas and churches in Boston Tuesday night to remember the victims of Monday’s bombings near the marathon finish line.
Erika Djerf, clad in her blue marathon jacket with gold lettering, stood with a pack of her friends and supporters on the Boston Common during a vigil next to the Parkman Bandstand as a chorus sang prayer songs and American classics. Djerf, a Quincy native, said today, she was more proud than ever to be from Boston.
A day before, Djerf was confused, exhausted and emotionally drained when crowds of people in front of her halted as she approached the last mile of the Boston Marathon.
“You just see crowds of people and you’re just looking around, and you just don’t know what’s going on. It’s just pure chaos,” said Djerf, one of the many runners attending the vigil, called Peace Here and Everywhere, on the Common.
In addition to the vigil at the Common, people lit candles and sang songs at events at Boston University’s Marsh Chapel, in Somerville’s St. James Church and at other locations. Seas of Boston sweatshirts and caps flooded areas designated for remembrance of the three people killed and more than 100 injured.
At BU’s Marsh Plaza, a slew of speakers including Marsh Chapel’s Dean Dr. Robert Hill, student president Dexter McCoy and Rabbi Michael Beyo urged vigil attendees to stay hopeful that the city and its people will recover, stronger than ever.
As thunder struck in the distance, McCoy, remarked on “a day that was meant to be joyous…taken from us in an act of terror.” He demanded, though, that the crowd not give in to the terror, and said, “This is our community; this is our Boston.”
Beyo brought tears to the eyes of some listeners in the first row with these words: “Life is stronger than any death.”
Students embraced each other and gripped hands, while some bowed their heads in prayer.
“Since BU is so ingrained in this city, [the vigil] is a good way to come together and let people know that BU stands with the victims,” senior Molly Harrison said as she stood between friends, all holding candles that they lit at the vigil.
Students reached for each other to offer support and well wishes as Kenneth Elmore, the dean of students, recalled the strength of the BU campus. The vigil, he said, is “a sign that we are not afraid and not alone during these times of anxiety.”
The vigil ended shortly before President Robert Brown publicly released confirmation that one of the deceased was a BU graduate student. Another student was among the critically injured.
In an email to the community, Brown said “We cannot at present release the names of the victims… Our hearts and thoughts go out to the family and friends of both of the victims.”
Meanwhile, a large crowd of mourners gathered at Garvey Park in Dorchester last night to remember 8-year-old Martin Richard, who died in the marathon bombing.
Emerson College had seven students that were injured, leading freshman Autumn Farrell to head to the vigil on Boston Common. Farrell knew none of the injured students, but said she felt compelled to show support for all of Boston, her new home.
“The way people are responding is so amazing. It just brings this community closer together. Even though it was tragic, there’s amazing things happening right now,” Farrell said as she stood alone with a church candle in hand, one she had kept in her dorm room since leaving Arizona in September.
The attendees at the vigil on the Common also included out-of-town marathoners who had not yet left for home.
Jennifer Nicholas, a marathoner from Washington, crossed the finish line just before the terrorist attacks hit Boylston Street.
“Not coming back would be like letting whoever did this be successful. I qualified again by running it this year, and I’ll run it again to spite them,” she said at the Boston Common vigil, holding a small tea light candle given to her by another vigil attendee who offered candles to everyone in marathon jackets.
Nicholas, with her mother and sister by her side, said she had planned on staying in Boston an extra day before the tragedy struck.
“I’ll tell you, Boston is an amazing town,” she said. “Honestly, from the get-go, before all this happened, my mom and my sister and I were saying this is an amazing town . . . Everyone I know, as far as the state of Washington and the state of Oregon, everyone is banding behind the city of Boston.”