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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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April 18th, 2013
06:33 PM ET

President Obama comforts grieving city of Boston

President Obama delivered a soaring oratory in Boston Thursday, with the first lady looking on from the front row.

"Like you, Michelle and I have walked these streets. Like you, we know these neighborhoods, and like you, in this moment of grief, we join you in saying, 'Boston, you're my home,'" said Obama.

Attempting to calm nerves, Obama's speech was part eulogy, part sermon, part rallying cry.

"If they sought to intimidate us, to terrorize us, to shake us from those values that [Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick] described, the values that make us who we are as Americans, well it should be pretty clear by now that they picked the wrong city to do it. Not here in Boston!" said Obama.

The crowd began lining up at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross hours before the service, stretching for blocks beyond the church, many more than could possibly fit inside the 2,000-capacity building. The church is just a mile away from the bombing site.

Those who found a seat listened as the president memorialized the three people who died in this terrorist attack - 29-year-old Krystal Campbell, 23-year-old Chinese graduate student Lingzi Lu, and the president especially choked up when talking about 8-year-old Martin Richard, describing an image of the young boy that has been shared widely online and elsewhere.

"Forever expressing a wish he made on a blue poster board. 'No more hurting people. Peace.' No more hurting people," said Obama.

The president has once again become the consoler-in-chief, a role he has found himself in all too often, after Tucson, after Aurora, after Hurricane Sandy, and most recently, after Newtown.

As with those terrible events, now is a time for coming together. The service united religious leaders and people of all different faiths in one common prayer.

"To repair our broken world, we cannot do it as a collection of individuals, we can only do it together," said Cardinal Sean O'Mally.

This is not the first time Boston, and the nation, have wept and prayed in this church after a tragedy. Holy Cross was also the site of the memorial service for President John F. Kennedy in January 1964. Today, Kennedy's great nephew, Congressman Joseph Kennedy III, D-Massachusetts, was among the elected officials in attendance.

But it was truly a moment to put aside politics. The memorial served as a reunion of sorts for the president and his former rival Mitt Romney, who attended along with three other former Massachusetts governors.

In one of the more inspirational moments during the ceremony, Boston Mayor Tom Menino, confined to a wheelchair, pushed himself to the pulpit, stood with a broken leg, and praised his city's resilience.

"Love has covered this resilient city. I have never loved it, and its people more, than I do today," said Menino.

Before the service closed to the strains of "America the Beautiful," the president made one last pledge to the people of Boston.

"We will all be with you as you learn to stand, and walk, and yes, run again. Of that, I have no doubt, you will run again," said Obama. "We may be momentarily knocked off our feet, but we'll pick ourselves up. We'll keep going. We will finish the race."

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