Mass. officials pay tribute to marathon victimsBy BOB SALSBERG , Associated Press
Apr. 22, 2013 5:11 PM ET
BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts officials and lawmakers paused Monday to remember the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, amid a slow return to the routine business of state government on Beacon Hill one week after the attack.
Gov. Deval Patrick joined hundreds of state employees in front of the Statehouse to observe a moment of silence at the exact time that the first of two bombs exploded at the finish line on Boylston Street.
Earlier, the House of Representatives, meeting in its full session since the attack, opened a scheduled debate over the state budget with a remembrance of the victims and first responders who rushed to save lives after the attack.
Standing with other top elected leaders on a landing on the great front steps of the 215-year-old state capitol, Patrick bowed his head during the one-minute silent tribute at 2:50 p.m.
The governor then approached a microphone and said: "God Bless the people of Massachusetts. Boston Strong." No further words were spoken as church bells pealed throughout the city.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who recessed the House so lawmakers could attend the moment of silence, said in his earlier remarks that all of Massachusetts — not merely the Boston area — had been severely impacted by the twin bombs that killed three people and wounded more than 180. An MIT police officer was killed and a transit police officer was critically wounded during the ensuing search for the suspects.
"The attack that took place during the marathon was in a sense, an attack on all of us, our entire state." DeLeo told the chamber. "Collectively we take pride in the courage and professionalism of our first responders who confronted evil and helped restore calm to our city."
The start of the state's annual budget debate, in which members planned to discuss hundreds of proposed amendments to the nearly $34 billion spending plan, seemed to signal a return to normalcy at the Statehouse following a tense and tumultuous week.
The presence of a polite group of protesters outside the chamber urging lawmakers to approve more funds for early education only added to that sense, as did the quick defeat of several Republican budget amendments by the Democratic-controlled House.
DeLeo also made note of the phrase "Boston Strong" that has become a motto of sorts for the city in the days following the attack:
"Yes, we are strong. No, we can never be broken. And yes, this Commonwealth of Massachusetts will continue to serve as a beacon of hope for all of America in the future," he said.
State Rep. Byron Rushing of Boston, who serves on the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church, led the House in a prayer for the victims. Members then rose in their seats to sing the National Anthem led by Massachusetts State Police Sgt. James Connor, who represented police and other emergency personnel and received a rousing standing ovation.