Saturday, August 2, 2008

Hundreds gather to remember bridge tragedy

MINNEAPOLIS - Buddhist monks chanted, American Indians pounded drums, and Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Greek Orthodox and Catholic leaders offered prayers and scripture Friday, reflecting the religious backgrounds of those who died a year ago when the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed during the evening rush hour.

The interfaith service at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis drew about 1,000 people, from bridge collapse victims to top state officials. People bowed their heads and shut their eyes, remembering and grieving.

The heavily traveled bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed Aug. 1, 2007, killing 13 people and injuring 145. Methodist Bishop Sally Dyck said the tragedy touched people around the world, raising basic questions about bridges and their safety.

"We all cross bridges, and I'm not talking about metaphors," Dyck said.

She added: "I still don't go over the Mississippi here in Minnesota that I don't look down and remember and pray."

Mercedes Gorden, whose legs and back were severely hurt in the collapse, broke down and cried during the service. The past year has been difficult, she said.

"I thought I'd be able to keep my composure, but no such luck," Gorden said.

But there were also signs of healing.

'Ordinary Workday'
Justine Hausmann, who lost her father, Peter Hausmann, said she has found strength she didn't know she had.