Emotions run high at memorial service
RESERVED FOR FAMILY – Chairs outside First Baptist Church in Meridian mark reserved parking spaces Thursday for family members of victims of Tuesday's deadly violence at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Meridian Facility. Ann Davis, holding the hand of her granddaughter, Michaiah Bolar, followed by Kathy Spells, left, and Charlotte Scott, make their way up the sidewalk to the memorial. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
July 11, 2003
Tears, laughter and anger surfaced during the community-wide memorial service Thursday to remember employees killed and wounded at the Lockheed Martin plant Tuesday.
An audience estimated at about 600 people gathered in the sanctuary at First Baptist Church as the service began at noon; media watched from the balcony.
Local ministers, elected officials and the president of Lockheed Martin spoke. Several prayers were offered. Hymns were sung.
The theme of the ceremony was one of racial unity and trust in God.
In his sermon, the Rev. Bill Harper, pastor of Savannah Grove Baptist Church, referred to news reports that some Lockheed Martin workers think Williams' actions were based in racism.
The crowd rose to its feet with rousing applause.
Dain Hancock, president of Lockheed Martin, called the community's response to the shootings overwhelming.
He added that the plant will continue to be part of the Meridian family.
Another pastor, the Rev. Samuel Thompson attended the service, but was not part of the program. Thompson is pastor of 31st Avenue Baptist Church. One of the church deacons, Charles Scott, was critically injured in the shooting.
Thompson said the memorial service was a reflection of the community.
Thompson is also the safety director for the Meridian Public School District.
Thompson and Walter Patton, president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said both whites and blacks helped each other in many ways immediately after the shootings.