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A Year After Bombings, Boston Comes Back 'Strong'


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Boston Strong has become an American phrase over the past year after bombs exploded at the finish line of last year's Boston Marathon. Three people were killed - Krystle Marie Campbell, who was 29; Lu Lingzi, a graduate student from China; and Martin William Richard, an 8-year-old boy. At least 264 people were injured, many of them losing legs and arms. Sean Collier, an MIT police officer, was also killed before police caught up with two brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, in nearby Watertown.

Tamerlan was killed in a firefight with police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev escaped, but he was captured later and will stand trial in November. The federal government has asked for the death penalty. Boston Strong has described the grit and grace with which Boston and the people injured have lived through their losses. We want to turn now, as we did last year, to Mike Barnicle, the definitive Boston columnist. He's also a frequent contributor to national publications and a fixture on MSNBC. He joins us from our station WGBH in Boston. Mike, thanks for being with us.

MIKE BARNICLE: I'm happy to be here, Scott.

SIMON: Can you see ways, large and small, in which the city has been changed?

BARNICLE: Yeah, you can. It helped establish a firmer bond of community, I think. And the marathon, basically, is a 26-mile-long block party in greater Boston. It's a community event much more than it is a sporting event. So what happened in the marathon last year, I think the ensemble cast of all of those who participate, all of those who witness it, feel stronger about themselves, feel more pride in the event - and more hopeful about the future because of what they endured, what the city endured, and what the city bounced back from.

SIMON: I think we all remember the weeks and months that followed and some of the scenes that unfolded. You think of Neil Diamond turning up to sing "Sweet Caroline" at Fenway, and bombing survivors getting cheered at Bruins and Celtics games. Were some gestures better than others?

BARNICLE: You know, there's a certain bittersweet aspect to this year's marathon, in terms of what people remember and what happened and what has happened to the survivors across the year. Young Jane Richard, Martin Richard's sister, she is now 8 years of age. She lost her leg last year while her brother lost his life. She was on the field at opening day, a week ago Friday. But you could see on the faces of the professional baseball players how struck they were by her courage.

You can see it on the face of Jeff Bauman, who lost his leg. His fiancee, Erin Hurley, was running the marathon last year. He was there to witness her cross the finish line; lost his leg, nearly died. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: Bauman lost both of his legs in the marathon bombing.] They're expecting a child in July. But they are all hopeful signs, larger symbols of a city that bounced back and stays bounced back.

SIMON: Mike, you're in the news business. But at this point, it seems you have your pick of things to comment on or not. Are you going to pay close attention to the trial?

BARNICLE: Not really. The trial really doesn't interest me much at all. I think I pay more attention to the daily occurrences in and around the approach of this year's marathon. One of the things that stands out in my mind's eye is, there is a fire station on Boylston Street in Back Bay, in Boston, 300 yards from the finish line. And last year, a young firefighter, Michael Kennedy, ran from that firehouse down to the marathon finish line as soon as the explosions occurred, without worrying about his own life or limb.

And he died in a fire in Back Bay, four blocks from the finish line, a few weeks ago. So I think a lot of people will be thinking about him and about the occurrences since the marathon a year ago. This city endures, prospers, survives, and is standing up every day.

SIMON: Mike Barnicle, in Boston. Thanks so much.

BARNICLE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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