East Texans Hold Memorials For Astronauts

Green Acres Baptist Church of Tyler was one of many churches holding memorials for the astronauts of Columbia.

"Many of you woke up yesterday to a sound, a sound like thunder," Pastor Dr. David Dykes began. "Like many other Americans, your heart was broken. We grieve today, we are in pain, we are in national grief over the loss of these heroes."

They gathered to mourn for familiar strangers, heroes they never had a chance to know.

"I really don't know what to say," Dr. Dykes admitted. "Except I want you to meet these people. I want you to appreciate these people, I want you to pray for these families."

Each astronaut was remembered, and honored. Through that tribute, the congregation drew strength.

"I think it helped like it always does," Jan Sherrouse said. "In a time of tragedy in the county that we can be with other people who believe like we do, and feel like there's hope even in the midst of something that goes terribly wrong."

Lindale's Russell Korbol said, "It brought tears to my eyes to realize this tragedy has brought a lot of people closer to the realization that we are only here for a short period of time."

Fourteen year-old Sarah Partida said, "I kind of wish that some of the families were here just so they could know that God was with them. It made me feel like God is always with you, no matter how hard it may be."

Although they never got to meet the astronauts, the congregation will remember them.

"They are American heroes," Dr. Dykes said. "They are explorers, they are the ones who push the envelope and they realize the risks of what they do."

Reid Kerr (rkerr@kltv.com) reporting.