- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 18, 2013

At an interfaith prayer service for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, President Obama said Thursday that the terrorists who carried out the attack failed to crush the spirit of the city or the nation.

“If they sought to intimidate us, terrorize us … it should be pretty clear by now that they picked the wrong city to do it,” Mr. Obama said. “Not here in Boston.”

The service was held at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston’s South End, about a mile from the bombing site. Among the hundreds in attendance were family members of the victims, lawmakers, first lady Michelle Obama and former Massachusetts Govs. Mitt Romney and Michael Dukakis.

A defiant Mr. Obama said the bombers failed to understand “our faith in each other.”

“That is our power,” he said. “That’s why a bomb can’t beat us. That’s why we don’t hunker down. That’s why we don’t cower in fear. We carry on. We race. This time next year, on the third Monday in April, the world will turn to this great American city to run harder than ever, and to cheer even louder, for the 118th Boston Marathon.”

As he raised his voice, the crowd in the cathedral responded with thunderous applause.

The president addressed the bombers directly as “small, stunted individuals.”

“Yes, we will find you, and yes, you will face justice,” the president said. “We will find you, we will hold you accountable, but more than that, our fidelity to our way of life, to our free and open society, will only grow stronger. God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but one of power and love and self-discipline.”

Three people were killed and more than 170 were injured when two bombs exploded Monday near the finish line of the venerated race. Authorities are searching for two men who were photographed by security cameras at the scene of the bombings, including one man who was seen dropping off a bag shortly before the blasts.

It was the culmination of a tumultuous week for Mr. Obama, both as commander in chief and as a political leader. As his administration coordinated a response to the bombings on Monday, the president also was intensely involved in trying to persuade senators to pass the centerpiece of his gun control legislation, a measure to expand background checks on gun purchases.

That effort collapsed in failure Wednesday, dealing a huge setback to a key initiative of Mr. Obama’s second term. The president reacted angrily, accusing the National Rifle Association and its allies of lying about the legislation, and criticizing Republicans and even some senators of his own party for “caving” to pressure from the gun lobby.

On his way to Boston on Thursday, Mr. Obama also telephoned Texas. Gov. Rick Perry to offer federal help for recovery operations at a fertilizer plant explosion that killed up to 15 people and leveled portions of the town of West, Texas.

After the prayer service in Boston, Mr. Obama met with first responders and visited some of the wounded in hospitals.

“You displayed grit,” the president told first responders. “You displayed courage. You’ve inspired the world.”

Civic pride was a dominant theme of the prayer service. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said heroes of the tragedy proved that “darkness cannot triumph over our civic faith.”

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said he has never loved his city more than he does this week, and he praised first responders and ordinary citizens who rushed to help the wounded.

“We are one Boston,” Mr. Menino said. “Nothing can defeat the heart of this city. Nothing will take us down, because we care for one another. Even with the smell of smoke in the air and blood on the streets, tears in our eyes, we triumphed over that hateful act on Monday afternoon.”

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