By Will Fairless
A memorial event was held at noon on March 3 at Courthouse Square in Opelika. Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones spoke, and family members of the 23 who lost their lives released white and blue balloons with those victims’ names on them.
“Though not standing beside us here, their spirit is with us,” Jones said. “ … It’s our responsibility as a community to remember them.”
Mayor F.L. “Bubba” Copeland, Jones and EMA Director Rita Smith participated in a moment of silence at Smiths Station City Hall at 3:03 p.m. EST on Wednesday, the second anniversary of the tornado disaster that hit Lee County.
“We ask that you wrap your arms around them and continue to let them know that they are loved, and we will never forget them,” Smith said in a prayer prior to the minute-long silence. “We are thankful for our leadership in this county; we have phenomenal leadership here.”
“I just want you to think, when the sirens started going off, the phones started going off, and everybody got a little nervous, and then our world changed forever,” Copeland told the 20-something people in attendance. “I just ask you to reflect for one minute, just be thankful for where we’re at and be with the ones that lost loved ones and the ones that are still rebuilding.
“I want to make sure to thank every single person that came from all over the United States and the world to help us rebuild and continue to move forward. I’ve made so many new friends through this tragedy, lifelong friendships, and I thank each and every one of you that helped with that and we thank you for being here today, and let’s continue to help each other out. It’s still our responsibility two years later to help each other out.”
On the evening of March 3, Providence Baptist Church held a candlelight vigil in remembrance of those who lost their lives on the same date two years earlier.