Aug. 1 marked one-year anniversary of bridge collapse

Memorial events took place for public to remember the tragedy.

by Anna Ewart

People from across the state gathered Friday to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the collapse of the I-35W bridge.

An emotional gathering took place in Gold Medal Park at 4:30 p.m., where musicians paid tribute to the 13 who died in the disaster. An interfaith prayer service took place earlier in the day.

At the park, hundreds met and then walked to the Stone Arch Bridge to view the collapse site.

The procession paused for a moment of silence at 6 p.m., followed by the ringing of bells at 6:05 p.m. – the exact time the bridge went down. The names of the victims were also read aloud.

The crowd watched as an American flag was unfurled on the new I-35W bridge.

Work on the new bridge paused from 3 to 9 p.m., and many of the construction workers came to the afternoon memorial.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, was on hand for the prayer service and procession. She said the memorial events were kept subdued for the sake of the victims’ families.

“It’s good to have the community come together so they don’t have to go it alone,” Klobuchar said.

Jill Hengstler , a sophomore at Augsburg College , attended Friday’s memorials as well. Through a friend, she knew Sherry Engebretsen , who died in the collapse.

Hengstler said Engebretsen was like “a second mother.”

“It just brings back memories,” she said of the anniversary. “It doesn’t seem like it’s been a year.”

At the prayer service, which was held at the Basilica of St. Mary , survivors and victims’ loved ones were joined by civic and religious leaders.

Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Christian prayers were given, and there was a variety of musical performances.

About 400 people gathered there. Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak both spoke at the service.

Pawlenty said the public must remember those who died, and praised first responders.

“Our thoughts go to those who perished one year ago,” Pawlenty said. “We will not forget them.”

Rybak said survivors and victims of the collapse represent every aspect of the state’s religious and ethnic diversity. Minnesotans of all backgrounds reached out to those affected, he said.

However, he also said people should continue to support those affected by the tragedy.

“Our challenge now is to sustain our compassion,” Rybak said. “At 6 o’clock tonight we will have our moment of silence. At 6 o’clock on Monday, it will be another typical rush hour in the city of Minneapolis.”