As music and sounds of merriment echoed down the hall of the Park Plaza Hotel, the Imperial Ballroom fell silent. Police officers, firefighters, and civilians stood in solemn remembrance of the victims of the April 15 terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon, including Sean Collier, a fellow officer of many of those in attendance.
More than 200 public safety officers from communities throughout the Boston area gathered at the 100 Club of Massachusetts’ annual dinner Wednesday night, just blocks from where the two terror bombs went off, to honor those who responded to the attacks.
“This is the first time we are all together in the same place like this since since April 15,” Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said.
But this came came with a tragic caveat.
“We’re not all here, we lost Sean,” he said, referring to to the fallen MIT officer. “But we’re here tonight to honor him and the three victims.”
Collier was shot and killed by the alleged Marathon bombers while he was sitting in his cruiser in Kendall Square in Cambridge on the night of April 18. Three others were killed and more than 260 injured when the bombs went off on Boylston Street.
The 100 Club, a philanthropic organization dedicated to serving law enforcement and public safety organizations, made the first responders and medical workers who took participated in the wake of the bombings the focus of this year’s event.
“It was a good thing to see everyone properly recognize those who deserve to be recognized for the tremendous work responding to and investigating the attack in Boston,” said State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan, who emceed the event.
With more than 500 people in attendance, Coan presented the first award to Dr. David Mooney, who accepted on behalf of Boston Children’s Hospital, where some of the victims were treated. He was joined by representatives of Boston Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Steward Carney Hospital.
“Boston has been known as a world leader in health care because of its hospitals, but the Marathon showcased the people who worked in those institutions,” Coan said.
The 100 Club honors those who contribute to the public health and safety of Massachusetts every year at its dinner, a spokeswoman for the organization said. This year’s awards went to Collier and MBTA Transit Police officer Richard “Dic” Donahue, four local hospitals, 13 public safety organizations for the role they played on the day of and days following the attack.
Donahue was wounded during a shootout with the alleged bombers in Watertown.
“It’s great [that] so many people involved in my care in April and still involved today were recognized,” Donahue said after the event.
The 100 Club and various speakers said this appeared to be the first time the honorees were jointly recognized since the attacks.
Collier’s father Allen and stepfather Joe Rodgers stoically accepted the posthumous award on his behalf. They did not address the audience, and a spokeswoman for the 100 Club said Allen Collier was too emotional to talk after the event.
While the memory of Collier and the other victims hung over the night, speakers did not shy away from celebrating what they saw as the triumph of the responders.
“Everyone was in agreement that there was an attack, the victims had to be helped, and the perpetrators brought to justice, and we succeeded,” said Attorney General Martha Coakley. ... “In the days since the Boston Marathon bombings, the truth is that our police, firefighters, EMS, and National Guardsmen worked together so well because it’s what we do.”