Items left at makeshift marathon shrine help keep Boston strong

BOSTON - Tuesday is the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing.

On Monday, a "Boston Strong" flag was raised at the hospital where many of the victims were treated. And the marathon finish line got a fresh coat of paint in time for Tuesday's memorial services.

Many pairs of running shoes were left at the marathon finish line. CBS News

It was at that finish line that a shrine sprang up after the bombing and helped the city recover.

Steps away from the Boston Marathon finish line, at the city's public library, some of the thousands of items left behind at the makeshift memorial are on display.

The exhibit honors those killed: Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu, 8-year-old Martin Richard, and Sean Collier, the Massachusetts Institute police officer who authorities say was shot dead by the bombers after the attack.

Massachusetts resident George Katchen came here Monday to reflect.

"Tragedies really do bring people together. It helps one to focus - where do you really want to go with your life?" he said.

"I get in tears right now just talking about it, thinking about it."

All the mementos were carefully picked up, preserved by the city of Boston and brought to a cavernous, climate-controlled facility owned by a record storage company called Iron Mountain.

Samantha Joseph, who works for the company, says there are about 250 boxes filled with mementos.

What's in them?

"Everything you can imagine," said Joseph.

The objects from around the world convey gratitude to the first responders and sympathy for the victims.

Whether expressed on T-shirts or written on running shoes, the objects and their messages were carefully kept intact by staffers.

"There's one pair that says, 'These shoes taught me the joy of running and you can never take that away,' written on the sole. And for me that was exactly encapsulating the event - that that was an event designed for ordinary people to be heroes and get to run a marathon and you can't take that away from the city," Joseph said.

Even now, visitors can leave notes that become part of the display.

Those involved in the memorial hope their work preserves an important part of Boston's history while also bringing comfort.

"We believe that experiencing that message of hope and love is going to be a big part of the healing process - that a year later, thousands of people are going to come back to the city to remember, to reflect and also to find joy in the marathon," Joseph said.

The items are symbols of solidarity and a city's enduring strength.