STEVENSON, Ala. (WHNT) - A week from Sunday will mark 20 years since the TWA Flight 800 crashed in New York. All 230 people on board were killed, including 5 people from the Tennessee Valley.
The two families were traveling to Europe to complete an Eagle Scout project for 13-year-olds Joe and Tom. Sunday there was a gathering in Stevenson that focused less on the tremendous loss, and more on how their legacy still lives on. “I hate to say memorial service, I don’t want to say celebration. It’s something in between," says Judge John Graham, the brother of one of the victims.
Dressed in their Sunday best, dozens of Stevenson citizens walked in a procession to a memorial with five names of people that died nearly 20 years ago. The emotion was just as strong as if it were yesterday. “They had been talking about going to Europe for weeks if not months and I think the whole community knew when it was," says Graham.
Mike Scott, his wife Barbara, 13-year-old son Joe, along with his friend Tom, and his mother Brenda were killed when the massive TWA Airliner exploded just after take off. “Five people in a town the size of Stevenson is a huge number and these were people, especially the boys Tom and Joe, who were both 13 at the time who were very well known and well liked in school," says Graham.
Michael McKee, now 34 years old, says they were close. “Growing up playing basketball together, football, it would usually be after church," says McKee.
But out of the tragedy, came triumph. “Mike Scott was involved in the friends of the library organization. That group had already talked about it at Mike’s insistence about having some sort of learning center as a part of the library for tutoring and kids activities and enrichment programs," says Graham.
The town decided the best way to memorialize those they lost was to establish Mike's vision for a learning center. “Having this here to really drive people into downtown and cause it to thrive," says McKee.
Eighteen years later, the center hosts hundreds of children each summer for classes and activities. Dozens of adults darken the door for a chance to earn their GED. “If we continue the learning center and continue to expand it and grow it, there shall never com an end to the good that has been done in this place," he says.
There weren't any formal classes Sunday in the Michael Scott Learning Center, but there was still a lesson to be learned. Those five lives may have ended 20 years ago, but Scott's dream for a better Stevenson is thriving. “I think they would be extremely pleased if they could see what has been done here," he says.