Let us gather to mourn, to heal

ajester@herald-leader.comAugust 28, 2008 

Perhaps, after two years of grief, the healing has begun from the jet crash at Blue Grass Airport that killed 49 of 50 people aboard Comair 5191. Perhaps the families, who have endured, are looking to the future.

But the pain is easily touched, if only by the sound of slow, mournful piano notes introducing a song, sung by Transylvania University professor Beth Arnold.

You Raise Me Up speaks of troubles overcome and new strength found:

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;

You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;

I am strong, when I am on your shoulders; You raise me up ... To more than I can be.

About 350 people gathered Wednesday night at Transylvania University's Mitchell Fine Arts Auditorium for a memorial service of "Remembering."

The mood was gentle and subdued, and if there was not much apparent sobbing, mourners could be seen wiping tears from their eyes when they listened to songs and to reflections from family members of three killed when Comair 5191 took off from the wrong runway and crashed on Aug. 27, 2006.

Anita Threet, the widow of Greg Threet, recalled the eerie coincidence of her husband's last words before he left to catch the 6 a.m. flight.

"He had tears in his eyes and a very worried look in his face," she said. "He said 'Anita, I don't know but everything is about to change on this trip.' I gave him a reassuring hug and sent him on his way."

"Most of the last two years seemed like one long exhausting day," Anita Threet said. "After the tragedy, I made a promise to keep on living. I look to do something with my life that would make those 49 people proud. I am listening with an open heart and mind."

Matt Snoddy, son of Timothy Snoddy, who also died in the crash, thanked the many different people who have come to the families' aid over the last two years.

He even said: "Thank you for everyone who did nothing because they did not know what to do, because there was solidarity in silence."

"Tonight I ask that we let all of the lives lost in 5191 be a match that lights a fire in you," Matt Snoddy said.

And Kyra Frederick spoke of how her life changed after the death of her husband, Bart.

"I lost the person who made my every day normal," Frederick said.

She told of her study of verses about faith in the book of Hebrews in the Bible that made her realize all people are "aliens and strangers on this earth." She said Bart was "a man of faith. His real home is in heaven."

The 34-member choir from Historic Pleasant Green Baptist Church got a standing ovation from many in the audience with its rendition of a new version of Amazing Grace, led by soloist Christa Dunn:

God's grace is surely amazing ...

His amazing grace is why I am standing here today

His amazing grace brought me all this way

I thank you, Lord, for your amazing grace.

Mayor Jim Newberry said he was "extraordinarily proud of how our community has honored its tradition" that the "point of community is to take care of one's own."

Newberry read a letter sent by Debbie Hersman, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board who led the investigation into the crash and became well-known to the victims' families.

Hersman said there is a "strong and vibrant community in Lexington ... a phenomenon we don't always see after an accident like this."

She wrote of the "long difficult process of healing."

"In Lexington," Hersman wrote, "the strength to move forward comes not from time but comes from each other."

Reach Art Jester at (859) 231-3489 or 1-800-950-6297, ext. 3489.

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