"The courage I was witnessed from 246 feet up was amazing."
Now, residents who were directly and indirectly affected by the attack are returning to Old South Church looking for ways to cope with their trauma.
"I came today to pay my respects after picking up my medal," said Lauren Tourgee, a runner whose race was cut short by the attacks. "This is a place that's usually filled with happiness, especially on Marathon Monday."
Tom Ralston said he planned to return later in the week; it will be the first time that he will have seen the familiar downtown street since the second explosion ruptured his eardrums and left shrapnel buried deep in his hand.
"I don't know what to expect," said the longtime member of the Old South Church. "I have nightmares. I have flashbacks."
Since the attacks, Ralston has sought counseling like many Bostonians.
"Talking with friends, and others like Nancy, are making me understand that the only way you're going to get through some of the worst parts of this is by talking," he said. "I think I've got a lot more talking to do."
But for the moment, a lingering trauma has left him still wary of public places.
"I actually turned down four wonderful Red Sox tickets for Saturday night because I'm not sure that I'm ready for an open-air crowd just yet," he said. "I'd have no idea who's sitting next to me or behind me."
After visiting Fenway Park "hundreds of times before," he's just going to wait.
"If you think about Boylston Street -- if it can happen there, it can happen absolutely anywhere," he said.