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EDITORIAL:The day the worst brought out the best

January 27, 2007

It has been two years since the worst tragedy in the city's recent history and the community is still trying to heal.

At this anniversary of the fateful Metrolink train wreck that claimed the lives of 11 passengers — two of them city employees — and left nearly 200 others injured, we should take some time to reflect and remember those lost.

We remember and mourn for the victims of that terrible day, and we pray for their families as they face another new year without their loved ones.

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And, for those who lived through it, we hope that a second year has lessened the painful aftermath caused by the trauma of that day.

We remember people like Scott McKeown, 42, who worked for the city of Glendale from 1989 to 2003 as a telephone installer and administrative analyst. And we remember Metrolink conductor Thomas Ormiston, who would bring his BMW into Walter Asatourian's car repair shop in Glendale, where they had a running conversation about life working on the railroads.

We remember Elizabeth Hill, 65, who was just six months away from retiring from her job in the city's Finance Department.

Gone, along with eight other lives, in an instant. But they are not forgotten.

Two years later, there aren't many ways to make sense of this tragedy. Juan Manuel Alvarez, the man charged with 11 counts of murder for allegedly parking an SUV on the tracks, has yet to stand trial. And the debate over whether a train is less safe when a locomotive is pushing from behind is still just that — a debate.

But what we can grab onto is the strength of the human spirit.

As we remember those we lost we should also remember how courageously the community responded — from the firefighters, police and paramedics to the selfless and brave Costco and lumberyard employees who risked their lives for others.

This day should be remembered because people came together to do great things in an hour of need to help others they didn't even know — in many cases saving their lives.

They showed that in a time of tremendous distress, ordinary people can become heroes.

The response was amazing.

It was the worst tragedy, and yet, it was the best of humanity.

Compassion, dignity, grace and courage were on display alongside tragedy on that day.

It may be little consolation in the face of so much devastation, but it is something Glendale should take pride in — that in tragedy, the best of the human spirit prevailed.

That's worth remembering on a solemn day, where the answers are still hard to find.

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