More than a thousand people waited for hours outside of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston today. All hoped to attend the memorial service for the victims of Monday's Boston Marathon bombings.

Some showed up in the middle of the night to wait in line. Others came just before 11 a.m. The first thousand people got tickets, then a few hundred more were let in. One was Emerson College student Cody Franklin. He talked about witnessing history, but like those around him, he was solemn.

"I figure it's an important event especially after an attack like this in the city," Franklin said. "It’s a once in a lifetime event to hear the president speak. So that's why I'm here."

Many here weren’t even at the marathon, or directly connected to the victims. But they expressed a longing for direction, leadership, hope. Stephanie Phillip Augusta, from Hyde Park, waited in line for 2 and a half hours.

“You know whenever an unprecedented attack takes place we all have to get together as a people to support the people who are injured and the people that we lost," she said. "And hopefully the president can lead us into our next step, and bring us all together, so that's what I'm here for."

The president and First Lady Michelle Obama arrived amidst heavy security. Police, FBI and Secret Service agents covered several blocks of the South End, and barricaded the areas around the Cathedral. They even demanded that neighbors keep windows shut. The Obamas arrived and walked in to the strains of "Amazing Grace." The president's moving speech brought tears and thunderous applause.

"The world will return to Boston next year…to run harder than ever." Obama said.

“It was the most moving ceremony that I’ve ever seen," said Barry Shrage, president of Combined Jewish Philanthropies. “The president was inspirational and really captured the spirit of Boston, the spirit of the country, brought us back to what’s really most important, which is to stand together as Americans. I love that idea of the civic creed and what that means to us, how that holds us together, and the governor expressed that profoundly.”

The service was given a title: "Healing Our City: An Interfaith Service." And that readiness for healing was expressed by several people in the crowd holding signs: asking for peace, pledging support for the city. One person said it was significant to have the president fly in from Washington, and remind Bostonians that people around the country stand with them.