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Remembering day the bridge fell

Buddhist monks chanted, American Indians pounded drums, and Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Greek Orthodox and Catholic leaders offered prayers and scripture Friday, reflecting the religious backgrounds of those who died a year ago when the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed during the evening rush hour.

The interfaith service at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis drew about 1,000 people, from bridge collapse victims to top state officials.

The heavily traveled bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed Aug. 1, 2007, killing 13 people and injuring 145. Methodist Bishop Sally Dyck said the tragedy touched people around the world, raising basic questions about bridge safety.

“We all cross bridges, and I'm not talking about metaphors,” Dyck said.

A remembrance was held in Gold Medal Park, where people gravitated after the disaster to catch a glimpse of the destruction and leave flowers and homemade signs honoring the victims. Ceremonies there opened to the sounds of simple instruments, including a conch shell, a flute and a gong.

Cathy DeCheine strummed her guitar and sang the song she wrote a few weeks after the collapse: “Ordinary Workday.”

“People were on their way home,” it goes. “Seemed nothing could ruin this fine summer day.”

About 5:30 p.m., police, firefighters and other law enforcers who responded to the bridge collapse led a procession from the park about six blocks to the Stone Arch Bridge. That's just upriver from the freeway, where construction on the new bridge was halted temporarily.

Thirteen names were read: Patrick Holmes, Artemio Trinidad-Mena, Paul Eickstadt, Sherry Engebretsen, Julia Blackhawk, Peter Hausmann, Sadiya Sahal, Hana Sahal, Richard Chit, Vera Peck, Christine Sacorafas, Scott Sathers and Greg Jolstad.

At 6:05 p.m., the time the bridge collapsed, a moment of silence was held, with an American flag unfurling on the new bridge and bells sounding.

The memorials are the first major public observance of the bridge collapse since last August, when residents across Minneapolis marked a moment of silence six days after the span fell.

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