Vice President Joe Biden delivered an emotional speech at a Wednesday memorial service for MIT officer Sean Collier, who was shot and killed by Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The service, which was held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was open to students, faculty, and law enforcement from across the country, drew a crowd of thousands.
Along with Biden, MIT president L. Rafael Reif, MIT police chief John DiFava, Collier’s brother Rob Rogers, and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) also spoke.
The speakers commended Collier for his work and dedication to the MIT community, along with the rapport he built with students and faculty during his time at the Cambridge campus. Reif said, “Sean Collier didn’t have a job at MIT, he had a life at MIT. In just 15 months, he built a life with us. He touched people across our community.”
Senator Warren praised Collier’s commitment to his duty: “Sean’s life was infused with this spirit of service—that protection, that strength, could come only from giving himself fully.” Warren continued by applauding others in the Boston community for their response to the Marathon attack, pointing out the unwavering dedication of first responders, doctors and nurses, law enforcement, as well as Boston mayor Tom Menino and Governor Deval Patrick.
During Vice President Biden’s remarks, he called the Tsarnaev brothers “two twisted, perverted, cowardly knockoff jihadis” who targeted Americans to “instill fear, to have us, in the name of our safety and security, jettison what we value the most, and what the world most values about us… our open society, our system of justice that guarantees freedom, the access of all Americans to opportunity, the free flow of information and people across this country, our transparency—that’s their target.”
Since the April 15th attack in Boston, there has been an outpouring from Republicans citing the incident as a reason for stricter immigration reform. Representative Steve King (R-IA) and conservative commentators Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter recently made provocative comments calling for the closure of borders or risk facing “the end of America,” as Coulter warned.
The vice president’s comments at Wednesday’s memorial service addressed this right-wing paranoia. “What makes me so proud of this great state, and the city of Boston and Cambridge, and all those involved, and the students on this campus—what makes me so proud to be an American is that we have not yielded to our fears,” he said. “We have not compromised our values. We have not weakened our constitutional guarantees. We have not closed our borders.”
“Just look around this field at the student body here, just listen to the accents of the president and the vice president; this is a diverse campus–probably the greatest technological university in the world,” Biden added. “It’s black, it’s white, it’s Christian, it’s Muslim, it’s Jewish, it’s Hindu—that’s who we are.”
Collier’s funeral was held on Tuesday, and following Wednesday’s memorial service, the officer was buried during a private ceremony.