Obama, in the midst of an emotional and trying stretch for the country and his presidency, vowed to track down those responsible and lauded Boston’s “undaunted” spirit.
“Your resolve is the greatest rebuke to whoever committed this heinous act,” he told the gathering.
Speaking from the pulpit in the soaring cathedral, the president didn’t explicitly declare explosions an “act of terror” as he did earlier in the week during remarks at the White House. But he showed little restraint in describing those responsible for the attack, calling them “small, stunted individuals.”
“Yes, we will find you, and yes, you will face justice,” he said, as the crowd applauded.
The president spoke of Boston in personal terms, reminding the audience of the years he spent in the city as a student at Harvard Law School. Boston was also the host for the 2004 Democratic National Convention that featured Obama as the keynote speaker, a role that would thrust the little-known Illinois state senator into the national spotlight.
Obama and first lady Michelle Obama sat at the front of the church next to Gov. Patrick. A mournful solo by cellist Yo-Yo Ma preceded the governor’s own remarks.
“We will grieve our losses and heal,” Patrick said. “We will rise, and we will endure. We will have accountability without vengeance, vigilance without fear.”
The service included reflections by representatives of Protestant denominations, the Jewish, Muslim and Greek Orthodox faiths, and Cardinal Sean O’Malley, head of the Roman Catholic church in Boston.
In Lawrence yesterday, The Rev. Joel Almono, pastor of Grace Episcopal Church, watched part of the service.
“What impressed me the most is how in a moment of pain, theology is set aside to help humans as one because there is only one God,” Almono said.
“I was impacted to see a Muslim, an Orthodox bishop, followed to the podium by female evangelical Christians. It was almost like a utopia to see ministers of different denominations at a Catholic church, but it showed me that the unity of the people of God is possible,” Almono said.