When we spent the day in Montoursville, Pa., I was struck by how much people in this small town give deference and respect to families of the victims of TWA flight 800. And, as nearly everyone suggested, that's exactly the way it should be. Today, 10 years after the tragic explosion that killed all 230 people on board that flight, this community is still struck by the devastating loss of 21 of its own. Sixteen members of the Montoursville High School French club and their five chaperones were off on the trip of a lifetime heading to Paris. For many of the teenage students it was their first journey overseas and for some others it was their first time on a plane.
On Broad Street, the town's main thoroughfare, you don't see as many signs of grief like you did a decade ago. Back then blue and gold ribbons were everywhere. While most of the ribbons are gone today, there are other strong reminders of the pain this close-knit community continues to endure. The high school is fiercely protective -- refusing to allow us to video tape the tributes to the victims that are encased in the school hallways.
On Broad Street there is a towering Angel, symbolically keeping watch at a memorial park near the school. That's where 21 trees have been planted --one for each of the town's victims. Farther down the street at the cemetery, gravestones of many of the victims are clustered together at the top of a hill. There's also a 5K race held in remembrance.
Yet, another sign of the continuing grief here is the fact that some families are reluctant to talk to reporters about their loss. As Cory Loudenslager whose sister, Jody was killed, put it, "I don't believe that time heals all wounds". Yes, day to day life must move on, and it has. Montoursville continues to prosper. People have graduated from high school and college, they got married, had children, some have even moved away. But as Loudenslager put it, "the memory stays". Loudenslager spoke with us, as did several other people who were friends of the victims, because of concerns that the worst tragedy of all would be for society to forget those who died.
In another ten years Loudenslager says she hopes, "people keep remembering our loved one". By what I experienced in Montoursville, there's little chance people there will ever forget.
Editor's note: Because of all the breaking news in the Middle East, Rehema's story did not make it into Nightly News Monday evening. But you can read it here.