POINT PLEASANT — On Saturday evening, people from Mason County and surrounding areas gathered around 6th Street in Point Pleasant to remember a tragic event that happened 51 years ago, the night when 46 souls lost their lives during the Silver Bridge collapse.
To begin the fourth annual Silver Bridge Memorial Ceremony, Cody Smith performed “Thankful,” and Minister Jordan Decker lead all the guests in an opening prayer.
“I would like to take a moment just to say a little bit why we’re here, we’re here to remember a tragic moment in the history of our community, but more than that we’re here to remember the legacy that was left behind the disaster and that is one of hope…” said Decker. “Something I mentioned in sermon a couple of weeks ago is that hope is often found in the shadows, so often we miss it because we’re expecting a big thing, but so often it’s just a flickering candle light in the darkness and its just enough to see by, but it is enough and that’s what hope is. I think even something as tragic as the collapse of the bridge, we still saw volunteers come from our community who showed compassion, we saw generosity, we saw sacrifice…people came and I think they showed hope even in the darkness…I think that is a legacy that has carried on in Point Pleasant.”
Commission President Tracy Doolittle then welcomed everyone for taking time out of the their evening to pay their respects to the victims of the Silver Bridge collapse.
“Tonight it has been 51 years since the Silver Bridge fell and tonight we just really want to honor the 46 who lost their lives,” said Doolittle.
Mayor Brian Billings then turned the guests attention to the Silver Bridge Memorial Mural painted on the flood wall. The artist of the mural Jesse Corlis was in attendance and explained his experience of painting the mural for the city and the honor he felt being asked to paint such a momentous piece for the city. Billings gave recognition to those who helped with monetary support in order for the mural to come alive on 6th Street, also, the members of the mural committee were introduced including Billings, Doolittle, and Point Pleasant River Museum and Learning Center Director Jack Fowler. Fowler shared his thoughts of the mural and gave thanks to Corlis and all of those in attendance of the ceremony.
Smith then performed “Oh Holy Night,” and following Point Pleasant Battle Days Queen Emma Rice read the names of the 46 victims who lost their lives during the Silver Bridge collapse.
The lighting of the county tree was then done by Nora Sloane Watterson and Savannah Lynn Grady as Smith performed his final selection of the evening, “The Song of Christmas.”
Decker concluded the ceremony by having all join him in prayer once again.
Billings gave recognition to Event Organizer Kenny Grady and thanked him for his hard work and dedication to this ceremony since its beginning. He also encouraged all of the guests at the ceremony to take some time to better view the Silver Bridge Memorial Mural before they headed home.
More on the Silver Bridge Memorial Mural dedication will appear in an upcoming edition of the Point Pleasant Register.
Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.