Governor: A hero "every ten feet" Saturday night
In a ceremony that began with a reflective song, hundreds of people paid tribute to the victims of Saturday's accident that left five people dead and over 40 others injured.
Gov. Mitch Daniels paid respects to the victims, but also the people who rushed in to help. He said there was a "hero every ten feet Saturday night."
The State Fair's commission president opened the somber ceremony with the hope that it would bring comfort to those who needed it most.
"Welcome to the Indiana State Fair. When we meet on these grounds, it is with joy and happiness on our minds. But today we're saddened by the loss and injury and loved ones. On behalf of the Indiana State Fair, Indiana State Fair Commission and Board, we're hopeful that this remembrance service will be uplifting to friends and family that so deserve to find meaning in their sudden grief," said Steve Simmerman, Indiana State Fair Commission president.
Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman then led a prayer.
"We are blessed to live in this state where so many folks care about their neighbors. It is with heavy hearts that we come before you today," she said. "We pray that you bring comfort and strength to the victims of the tragedy."
Dr. William G. Enright, Executive Director of the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and former Senior Pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, also spoke at the memorial service.
"We are not here today to ask questions amidst a horrendous calamity, nor are we here to seek easy answers to our questions. Be we religious or secular, chances are the same prayer sits in the cusp of our minds. Dear God, please do not let 8:49 pm Saturday night be the last word," he said.
Wright acknowledged the grief of the mourners and the numb feeling left by the shock of the sudden loss.
"Yet all of us here today have gathered in search of a word from beyond ourselves - the word of hope," he said.
Gov. Daniels: Hearts broken, but also full
"Our hearts are broken for those we have lost, for those who were harmed. Our hearts are broken likewise for those who worked so very hard for a full year to try to make the Indiana State Fair the great event that it is. Family reunion of all Hoosiers that it is. The one place where we come together from farms and inner cities, all ages, all faiths, all walks of life. Ordinarily the most joyous event I know of. For all those who grieve this morning and all those who have lost in one way or another so much the events of the other day, our hearts are with you in a way that Hoosiers are known for," said Gov. Mitch Daniels.
But he also said that "our hearts are full."
"My heart is full for those people who, some from duty but many simply from their love and personal bravery, acted in courageous ways to make sure Saturday night was not worse than it was. All day yesterday, I talked to state troopers, firemen, emergency personnel. Every one of them had a story about that stranger who was to their left and their right helping extricate the injured, lift the scaffolding, with complete disregard of their own safety. There was a hero every ten feet on Saturday night."
"I think we're entitled to say this morning, to ourselves to to America, Indiana's a special place. It's not everywhere that we would have seen that response and that reaction. I cannot tell you how proud I am to be the employee of six and a half million people like that. I bet you share that pride too," said the governor, wiping away tears.
In addition to honoring the victims and their families, thanks was given to concert-goers turned heroes.
A huge outpouring of support continues for all those affected by this accident. On Facebook there is a page dedicated to those killed when the stage collapsed Saturday. Hundreds have already "liked" the page. It's a place to leave your condolences.
People are just wanting to find some way to express their sorrow and sadness. This service later this morning one way to do it. It starts at 9am on the free stage.