By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The message was simple: We love Boston and we stand with you in your time of sorrow. It was a message delivered by dozens of Brooklyn residents who took part in a candlelight vigil organized by US Rep. Michael Grimm (R-C-Brooklyn-Staten Island) on the Bensonhurst waterfront Sunday evening.
Grimm, a marine and an ex-FBI agent, hosted the brief but touching vigil in memory of the victims of the April 15 bombing at the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured more than 175 others. Dozens of local residents, including children, stood on the waterfront of the Gravesend Bay next to the Caesar’s Bay Shopping Mall on Bay Parkway, waved American flags, and prayed for the victims and their families.
The vigil took place one day before it was learned that suspected bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who is being treated at a Boston hospital following his capture on April 19, had regained consciousness and was answering questions from interrogators in writing. A throat injury from a gunshot wound prevented Tsarnaev from speaking, the Washington Times reported. Tsarnaev’s older brother Tamerian, 26, the alleged mastermind of the bombing plot, was killed in a shootout with police on April 18.
Grimm said it was important for New Yorkers, who know what it’s like to experience a terrorist attack, to send a message of support to the people of Boston as they try to recover from the devastating bombing at the marathon. “We want them to know that New York stands with them and that as the days go by, we will not forget,” he said.
The Rev. Michael Louis Gelfant, pastor of Saint Finbar Catholic Church in Bensonhurst, led the opening prayer and said Brooklyn residents were one with their fellow Americans in Boston in this time of grief. “We’re all Bostonians,” he said.
Rather than terrify Americans, the attack brought the country together, Grimm said. “There’s one flag here today, the American flag,” he said.
A large contingent of Yemeni-Americans from Bay Ridge attended the vigil and brought a large American flag. Children held up hand-made posters reading, “NY loves Boston,” “Boston strong,” and “Boston and Brooklyn: United we stand.”
“This is a great country. We love America,” Abdo Almasmary, president of the Yemeni American Association of Bay Ridge, said.
Former state senator David Storobin, who came to the US from his native Russia several years ago, said he hailed from the same region the alleged bombers did. His Jewish family fled to escape persecution, Storobin said.
The Brooklyn vigil was one of hundreds of similar events held around the country in the wake of the bombing. In addition to vigils and tributes to the victims, Americans are also raising funds to donate to the victims who survived the bombing. Many of those injured in the attack had to have their legs amputated and face a long struggle to regain normal lives.
Brooklyn runners contributed to a nationwide fundraising effort for Boston by holding a “virtual” 5K race on April 21, the New York Daily News reported. The race took place exactly one week after the bombing.