Hundreds of Bostonians stared down a crime scene in silence Monday, one week after the twin marathon bombings that killed three, injured scores more and sparked a chain of murderous events that has left this city bruised but, many say, not beaten.
"We'll never forget," said Susie Howard, a lifelong resident and three-time Boston marathon runner. "But this – today – it gives people some measure of closure."
Though billed as a city-wide moment of silence at 2:50 p.m., the quiet heard at the corner of Bolyston and Berkeley Streets was more enduring. There was no definitive start or finish to the tribute, as mourners amassed uttering only the most-hushed whispers and then trickled off in a slow dissipation.
When the clock struck 2:50 p.m., around the time the first bomb exploded near the finish line last Monday, the crowd grew almost totally quiet. But instead of silence, they heard – eerily – sounds that have assumed new meaning here, at least right now.
As church bells tolled, a helicopter circled overhead and sirens blared nearby. The whirring warning was not bound for the memorial, but bowed heads lifted and swivelled with concerned faces nonetheless.
"Every time I hear sirens now, I cringe," said a woman named Kim, who clasped a handful of fresh-cut flowers to lay at the tribute site. "I wonder what it is – what's going on? I expect the worst."
The crowd, peppered with people wearing the now-iconic yellow-and-blue marathon jackets and draped in American flags, broke its silence thanks to a Boston EMT officer inside the cordoned crime scene.
He pulled up in an SUV and emerged with his arms in the air, as if to proclaim this city's strength in the face of tragedy or perhaps celebrate the capture of bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Applause and chants of "USA! USA! USA!" erupted, and people leaned over a metal barricade to hug a police officer stationed inside the crime scene.
"This is where I wanted to be today," said Joanne Klys, who lives in nearby Arlington, where 29-year-old bombing victim Krystle Campbell worked at a steakhouse. "I've been to the restaurant and she was probably there. There's just a sense that this was so close to home. There's absolutely nothing distant about this."
On Monday, about an hour before the crowd gathered, Mr. Tsarnaev was charged with "using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction" and "malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death."
Though Ms. Klys said she came to the memorial to honour the innocent fallen and injured, she said the Tsarnaev family also held space in her mind.
"In a way, I feel so sorrowful about what happened with these two boys," she said. "What led them to do this? What came over them?"