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At slain MIT officer's memorial, Biden hails Boston's resilience

April 24, 2013|By Michael A. Memoli

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Vice President Joe Biden declared that terrorists committed to a "doctrine of hate and oppression" have seen again that the American people "refuse to yield to fear," hailing the "incredible heroism" and "resilience" of Boston in the wake of the marathon bombings.

Biden spoke Wednesday at a memorial service for MIT campus police officer Sean Collier, who was killed Thursday by the alleged perpetrators of the attacks, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, described by the vice president as "two twisted, perverted, cowardly knock-off jihadis."

"We have suffered. We are grieving. But we are not bending," he said, his voice booming across Briggs Field in the heart of campus. "We will not hunker down. We will not be intimidated."

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"On every frontier, terrorism as a weapon is losing. What galls them the most is that America does remain that shining city on the hill. We’re a symbol of the hopes and the dreams, of the very aspirations of people all around the world.... Our very existence makes a lie of the perverted ideology."

Biden pointed to the MIT campus as an example of the best of the United States, a community representative of the world that "challenge[s] orthodoxy as they try to impose it."

"You push the envelope. You know that no change can come without jettisoning the past," he said. "You are their worst nightmare -- all the things these perverted jihadis, self-made or organized, all the things they fear."

Wednesday's service drew thousands of people, including hundreds of law enforcement personnel from across the country. Interspersed between moments of silence and speeches by  campus and elected officials were the wail of bagpipes, two songs from pop star and Boston native James Taylor and a flyover by state police helicopters.

Rob Rogers, Collier's brother, said he would have loved all the trappings of the service, so passionate was he about law enforcement.

"He was born to be a police officer, and he lived out his dreams," Rogers said.

But John DiFava, chief of the MIT campus police, said his officers almost felt "betrayed by the society we are sworn to protect." He said the force was privileged, though, to have the service of an individual who once said his goal was to prevent issues from becoming problems.

MIT’s president, L. Rafael Reif, read notes that students had offered with memories of Collier, including one who said that out of uniform, "he could have passed for an MIT student," so well did he blend in with the "geeky style" of the students.

The university board voted unanimously Tuesday to make Collier an honorary member of the alumni association.

"He truly was one of us," Reif said.


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