Stennis Employees Remember Columbia Crew

"We are here to honor the lives of seven heroes and to mourn their loss."

Stennis Space Center Director Bill Parsons comforted Stennis workers with words of encouragement.

"Saturday the NASA family lost seven friends and the nation lost seven of our best and brightest," Parsons said.

Dr. Paul Richards from the Diamondhead Community Church also talked about the brave men and women who were dedicated to their mission.

"We're grateful for all those that have risked their lives by traveling beyond the confines of the earth' atmosphere and the vastness of space. We appreciate their dedication and devotion and their contribution to the expansion of human knowledge," Richards said.

After a minute of silence at the exact time Houston lost contact with Columbia, the Shuttle's crew flag was retired.

A short time later, the main American flag at Stennis which had flown at half staff since the tragedy was raised back to the top of the pole to symbolize a nation moving forward.

Many Stennis workers said the memorial service gave them the opportunity to grieve and to begin the healing process.

"Well, we might be past the shock now, kind of in a grieving stage. And I'm hoping today kind of gave us an opportunity to kind of close that out a little bit," Stennis employee Robert Lightfoot said.

Now these workers say they will honor the Columbia crew by helping America's space program move forward.

By: Al Showers