Marianne Campbell, State Representative Ryan Smith and Debbie Saunders

GALLIPOLIS – Ten days before Christmas 1967, in just a few seconds, countless lives were changed forever.

On the 50th Anniversary of the collapse of the Silver Bridge that claimed the lives of 46 people, a remembrance ceremony took place at the Bossard Memorial Library in Gallipolis Friday evening.

“No one at that point (50 years ago) would have been able to predict the tragedy that occurred, “ Marianne Campbell said, at the beginning of the memorial ceremony. “Sixty-four people dropped into the Ohio River, an almost indescribable event,” Campbell added. “And 46 lives were unexpectedly and disastrously cut short.”

Ohio Representative Ryan Smith was the guest speaker for the evening. Smith explained that when he was asked to make comments at special events, he would usually try to apply his personal perspective, “…but I am only 44 years old, so in this situation, I am not able to do that,” he said. “I read a lot of news articles and talked to people about what they remembered.”

“My parents told me they had crossed the bridge that day on their way to Huntington (West Virginia), “Smith said. “And when they heard what happened, they scrambled to contact family members to let them know they were okay.”

Smith said that even though it’s been 50 years, it doesn’t feel like that to the people who remember that day’s events.

“People remember what they were doing when President Kennedy was assassinated,” Smith said. “I remember what I was doing on 9-11.”

“Future generations need to understand the impact of the Silver Bridge disaster,” Smith said. “It is hard to explain (to them), but it is imperative that we continue to teach our kids.”

Following Smith’s remarks, Debbie Saunders, the library’s director, and Campbell read the names of the 46 victims.

Angelique Toler closed out the ceremony by singing Amazing Grace.

Fifty years later, we have not forgotten.

The 50th Anniversary Memorial Ceremony was organized by the Gallia County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the Gallia County Chamber of Commerce, the Bossard Memorial Library, and Acoustic Guitar.