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Boston Marathon tribute will unite survivors, first responders

www.usatoday.com

Wow can’t believe it’s been a year already! Check out what Boston plans to do to commemorate those affected by the Boston Bombings a year ago. #BostonStrong

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When hundreds of survivors and first responders gather Tuesday in Boston, there will be tears. But there also will be much to celebrate. A city’s resilience. The courage of so many. The strength of those who lost limbs and loved ones.

And the running of the Boston Marathon. A year after two bombs claimed three lives and injured more than 260 people, the oldest continuously held marathon in the world, 118 years old and still going strong, will go on.

“I’m really excited because I love being with the other survivors,” says Jeff Bauman, the only survivor who lost both legs above the knee. “I hope there’s a lot of first responders there. I want to say thank you to everybody.”

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Bauman will be at the tribute event Tuesday among the 3,000 invited guests and dignitaries and near the finish line on Monday, just as he was last year waiting for his girlfriend, Erin, to finish the race.

He will be there with the hero who came to be known on April 15, 2013, as “the man in the cowboy hat.”

“It will be a day of remembrance,” says Carlos Arredondo, who was wearing the hat when he tied a shirt around Bauman’s legs and lifted him into a wheelchair shortly after the bombs exploded. “To show that we move on with our lives. We grieve and heal.”

The picture of Bauman, his face and clothes, blackened and bloodstained, his legs gone, sitting in a wheelchair pushed by Arredondo, embodied the horror of the attack. But it also came to represent the bravery of others.

Arredondo will be wearing a cowboy hat just as he did last year when he handed out American flags near the finish line. When the first bomb went off at 2:49 p.m. ET, Arredondo, leapt over barricades and raced towards those injured. “After such a tragic event, it showed how good people are,” Bauman says. “He’s one of the heroes. As many people ran away, he ran toward that scene. He just wanted to help and save people’s lives.”

Since that day, Bauman, a 28-year-old from a Boston suburb who worked at the deli counter at Costco, and Arredondo, a 53-year-old Costa Rican immigrant and peace activist, have remained in each other’s lives. They attend each other’s family gatherings and even traveled to Costa Rica together.

“He’s become like my best friend,” Bauman says.