75th Anniversary held in New London Disaster - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

75th Anniversary held in New London Disaster


An observance was held to commemorate a massive explosion which claimed the lives of over 300 people in the small town of New London, 75 years ago today. In a homecoming of sorts, alumni and families who lost loved ones in the blast, came back to observe the anniversary. With prayers and a roll call of the fallen, former New London students and their families remembered the darkest day in their history.

Bobbie Myers lost her brother in the blast.

"I was 7 years old, I was just outside the building when it blew up. My brother was a bright young guy, 10 years old so full of life and I have really wondered about what his life might have been, but I think it would have been a good one," Myers says.

On March 18, 1937, at 3:17 in the afternoon, a spark from a shop sander ignited a vast pool of natural gas collected beneath the school building. I can remember it like it was yesterday, it was horrible to see" says former New London student Rivie Akin.

The huge blast leveled the structure and killed nearly three hundred people, mostly children. A lone bagpiper honored the fallen at the memorial. 293 victims were accounted for, but the real number may never be known.

"The anniversary was very heart felt and of course I had to shed a few tears remembering," says former student Margie Willess.

A gun salute concluded the remembrance, and those that walked away repeated a motto they have come to know. No one is truly dead, as long as they are remembered.

"The story is in the museum and its a story that has to be told, and we're not going to let it go away," says New London museum director Miles Toler.

An investigation into the blast found that the New London school district, like most area businesses and residents, had tapped into pipelines carrying unrefined gas from nearby oilfields. More than 6-hundred people attended today's ceremony.

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