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Community Remembers Boston Marathon Bombing Victims

The Milford High School Choir sang the National Anthem as part of a remembrance held this week in Milford to mark the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. "One year ago, the worst of humanity and the best of humanity was displayed," said event coordinator Michael Shain, founder of the "Thanks to Yanks" which honors those who serve the country. Kevin Rudden photo

At 2:49 p.m. on April 15, the bells in the First Congregational Church of Milford began ringing to mark the one-year anniversary of the bombings during last year's Boston Marathon. Inside the church, taking refuge from the rain, about 100 people gathered to mark a community's remembrance of the victims.

Organized by Michael Shain – the founder of the annual "Thanks to Yanks" events to thank veterans of the armed forces – the marathon remembrance had much the same purpose: "Remembering, respecting and revering those who kept us safe and the families who love them," he said. "One year ago, the worst of humanity and the best of humanity were displayed," Shain said. "The healing process started after the bombs went off and continues today."

State Senator Richard Moore, D. Uxbridge, spoke of remembering the four people killed and 282 injured last year. "We must never forget those we lost," he said. "Today, we also celebrate the many lives saved and those who saved them," Moore added. "All of these individuals and families we salute for their courage and resilience."

State Representative John Fernandes, D. Milford, spoke of the parallels between the events of September 11, 2001 in New York City and last year in Boston. "As much as the 'twin towers' may have been a symbol of New York City, the marathon is a symbol of Boston," he said. After the Boston bombings, "I waited and wondered, 'Will we recover? Will be ever run this race again?'" he asked. In recovery, we look for "resilience and assurance," Fernandes said. Watching the victims recover from their devastating injuries "gives us the ability to carry on," he said.

Keynote speaker for the remembrance was Dr. Jeffrey Hopkins, medical director of Milford Regional Medical Center's Emergency Department. He recalled the advice given by Fred Rogers, the late children's television show host, who commented, "When bad things happen, always look for the helpers."

Dr. Hopkins – who was volunteering in the medical tents at the start of last year's race and planned to run this year to remember those who helped the bombing victims – said medical personnel train over and over again to prepare for the worst that could happen – including mass casualties. "We are prepared for whatever happens," he said. "There are systems that are in place all the time."

What strikes him about his daily job is that "in the Emergency Room, we get to see that spirit of helpers at their best" as hospital staff and family members assist those in need of emergency medical care, Dr. Hopkins said. Whether it is police officers or firefighters or doctors or nurses, or Emergency Medical Services personnel, everyone pitches in to help out in a disaster, he said. This year, "I'm running out of appreciation for the helpers that save us every day," he said.

Although Milford is miles away from the marathon's finishing line, Boston's hospitals were overwhelmed and people traveled to hospitals like Milford Regional to seek treatment. "We saw 180 patients in our Emergency Department that day," Dr. Hopkins said.

Other speakers at the remembrance were Boy Scout Troop 2 Eagle Scout Jack Donahue, who recited the First Responder's Prayer, and local clergy from the First Congregational Church, the First United Methodist Church and St. Mary of the Assumption Church. The Milford High School Choir sang the National Anthem and Shana Jackman sang America the Beautiful.

Shain closed the community event by reading a letter from Carlos Arrendondo – familiar to many as the man in the cowboy hat who helped marathon bombing victims. Saying he knew Arrendondo as a Gold Star father who lost a son in the wars overseas, Shain noted, "Long before the marathon, he was a joiner, helping others."

"I pray this one-year anniversary of the bombings helps all the survivors," Arrendondo wrote."When tragedy strikes, we come together as one. At the worst of times, things that divide us seem so petty," Shain added.

Dr. Jeffrey Hopkins, Emergency Medical Director at Milford Regional Medical Center, spoke of the role first responders' training played in the treatment of last year's Boston Marathon bombing victims. Speaking at a ceremony held in Milford to mark the first-year anniversary of the bombings, he recalled a saying of the late television host Fred Rogers, "When bad things happen, always look for the helpers." Although miles away from the tragedy, Milford Regional's emergency room treated 180 patients that day because Boston's hospitals were overwhelmed, he said. Kevin Rudden photo


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