Community Prepares for 'Columbia' Memorial - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

01/29/04 - Sabine County

Community Prepares for 'Columbia' Memorial

by Alex Carias

"We didn't ask for the shuttle to land here, but we took it and we treated it like we felt we were supposed to do. We treated it like it was our neighbor," explained Belinda Gay of the Sabine County Columbia Memorial Committee.

Memorials of the Columbia tragedy are visible all over the small East Texas town of Hemphill. Sabine County established a 10-person memorial committee just weeks after the accident. Vice President Belinda Fay says it was fate that allowed their community to quickly memorialize the heroes who lost their lives. A large star monument was placed in the city just weeks before the crash.

"This star was a beautification award that the county received from TxDot. When they were first building it, it was like 'What is it going to be?' It got finished about two weeks before the shuttle crashed, and this became the chosen place for the community to come in and pay their respects," added Gay.

The star is now the centerpiece of the community's memorials. On Sunday residents will come together to remember all who gave some and some who gave all.

"We lost 9 lives back in February and March of last year, and this is going to be a time of healing for the families and for the volunteers who came here and searched. And we just feel like that this is where god chose for the 7 astronauts to come to rest, and this is where they should have their memorial at," said Gay.

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