BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - On the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, many people across the coast took the time to reflect. They thought of the loss of life and devastation on August 29th 2005 and also of how far South Mississippi has come.
In a ceremony in Biloxi, students read the names of 51 men and women in that city who lost their lives in Hurricane Katrina. Local clergy offered prayers for the first responders who saved lives and for the countless volunteers who came here help rebuild.
"Representing all faith groups, men and women in uniform, college students, seniors, retirees, it was an amazing miracle to behold. Halleluah, praise God," said Milton Grishman, of Congregation Beth Israel.
City and state officials pointed to the progress the coast has made in building back better.
MEMA Director Mike Womack said, "As you go along the coast line, yes it's frustrating to have to build 10 or 15 feet above the ground. But you've got a much better chance that your home is going to be there for the next storm. "
The fourth anniversary of Katrina was also about the promise of a better tomorrow.
"While we recall disastrous losses of the past, we celebrate the progress of renewal and our great hope for the future," said Bishop Roger Morin of the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi.
Tree Sculptor Marlin Miller said he tried to capture that hope in his latest project on the Biloxi Town Green. First, he had to decide what to carve.
Miller said, "My wife Rene said, 'Well, what do you see?' I said, 'Well, it's a 24 foot marlin.'"
He continued, "She said, 'Well that's kind of arrogant to think you're going to do the final sculpture as a self-portrait.' I said, 'No, honey, the fish, the marlin.'"
Turning a dead oak tree into yet another beautiful work of art, it symbolizes the resiliency of the people of South Mississippi.
MEMA Director Mike Womack read a proclamation from the governor commemorating this as Marlin Miller day and making the sculptor an honorary Mississippian.