By Jack Minch

MediaNews

BOSTON -- Monday's bombings at the 117th Boston Marathon weren't just an attack on Boston, they were a slap at all people, said Ed Starbuck of Nantucket.

He stepped forward between onlookers to hang a string of American flags on a police barrier at a makeshift memorial for victims at Boylston and Arlington streets Tuesday afternoon.

"I'm a proud American, and I came to volunteer at the memorial because I'm emotional about it and felt it's better to do something," Starbuck said. "I think whoever did this is jealous we have freedom, whether foreign or domestic."

Raw emotion continued to swell Tuesday.

St. Ann Church in Dorchester, which was the home parish of the 8-year-old boy killed, was among churches arranging vigils.

Starbuck took charge, asking for volunteers to move the memorial when police announced plans to open that block of Boylston Street midafternoon.

They picked up the flowers, souvenir Boston T-shirts, a Red Sox hat and balloon depicting the children's movie "Cars."

The growing crowd of observers waited while everything was set in front of a vacant storefront on Boylston Street.

Visitors stopping at the memorial paid their respects and said they refuse to let terrorism make them cower.

John Bursell, of Juno, Alaska, thought he was in Boston for a one-time experience but changed his mind and will come back next year to run again with his wife, Jamie -- just to prove they cannot be intimidated, he said.

"I wouldn't want this to change what I do," Bursell said. "You can't let folks who do these kinds of things affect what you do."

Bursell finished the race in 2:59 and was back at his hotel room at the Taj Boston when the explosions went off. He didn't know about them until a friend from Texas called to check on him.

The Bursells visited the memorial a couple of times during the day to watch it grow.

"It just touches me to know people put something down to show they care," said Jamie Bursell, who also plans to run Boston next year.

Mike Noori, of Alfreda, Ga., dropped a daffodil at the memorial.

"Just to pay respects to all the folks and pay respects to the town," Noori said.

He was in Boston to watch his wife, Sina, run the marathon with her friend, Amy Bartholomew of Atlanta, in celebration of beating breast cancer.

The sponsor, John Hancock, offered Sina Noori an invitation after hearing how hard she trained after a double mastectomy just to barely fall short in her qualifying race in Presque Isle, Pa., last fall while still undergoing treatments.

Mike Noori was in the John Hancock VIP bleachers when the first bomb exploded.

About the time of the explosion, he smelled oil and believed it was an electrical mishap, so he tried to calm others around him as they charged off the bleachers.

Rebecca Koskinen of Boston gave birth to her daughter, Elisabeth, on Marathon Monday last year, so it was important to take her to this year's marathon.

They were standing at the spot of the first explosion but left 15 minutes before so Elisabeth could go home for a nap.

Koskinen was at the memorial Tuesday to pay her respects.

"I think it's really important," she said. "It gives people a way to remember."

Hassan Afshar of Toronto finished the marathon at 4:09:21 and was about a block away when the first explosion hit. He thought it was part of the festivities of the race, perhaps a cannon.

Afshar was at the memorial to show the world he cannot be intimidated.

"Nobody is scared of these people," he said. "We show them we are not scared of them. They cannot frighten us."

Bob Piskule of Attleboro heard the first bang then felt the reverberation from his office on the 22nd floor of the Prudential Center.

"It was extremely loud," he said. "We heard the second one and were like, it couldn't be good."

Piskule felt compelled to express his condolences, quietly slipping up to the police barrier at Boylston and Arlington streets to leave a bouquet of white carnations Tuesday afternoon.

"This is a terrible and unfortunate situation," Piskule said.

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