Texas City by the Bay. April '47, 16th day.
We all recall that fateful day.

Time froze for seconds, as did our hearts;
when two mighty blasts wrest our lives apart.
Fifty years ago, today…and remembered yet.
We were there. We won't forget.

An April day with skies of blue and
Cool crisp air that shed no clue
of war-like horrors on their way
that lovely sunshine cloudless day,

But for some who sensed the coming scene
and one who viewed it in his dream.
Smoke and fire that early morning…
coming cataclysm, without warning,

Except for the flames that blazed sun-bright
within the Grand Camp in pretty hues of light
red, orange, yellow, pink, and green so clear
that hundreds of spectators rushed near

To watch in awe while overhead two doomed planes
Circled above those deceptive flames.
Below, men toiled both on ship and land;
Both the great and small - all lent a hand.

To quench the French ship's rumbling beast
aroar in her hold with Hell-fire's heat.
Twenty-seven brave firemen we loved or knew
Rushed down to her to see what they could do.

But Fate felled them in a deafening drone.
One blinding flash, six hundred souls were gone.
Two tremendous detonations like atomic blasts
and hundreds were slain by shards of glass.

Steel missiles propelled as if fired from guns
Decimated or maimed those who had turned to run
from the grizzly sights and horrendous sounds.
Both the quick and the dead dropped to the ground.

The fire-filled harbor boiled and churned,
rose fifteen feet, and thundered ashore to burn,
drown, or save those who'd fallen or were trapped,
as water mains, gas pipes burst; power lines

Balls of sisal hurled on high
rained down like fireballs from the sky;
spread tongues of flames along the banks,
and washed into ruptured petrol tanks.

Violent eruptions then from this were wreaked
upon ravaged survivors….too stunned to speak.
Who staring dockward into thick, coal-black air
Lifted their hands to God and moaned a prayer

That loved ones would be safe and sound…
But one-hundred fifteen of us were never found.
Sixty-three remain unnamed. Each remembered yet.
We were there. We shan't forget.

Hundreds dead. Thousands hurt.
Blocks of homes flattened in the dirt.
Many of us lost everything.
We all still suffer the heartfelt strings

Of losing friends, mates, dads, and mothers,
Children, fellow-workers, sisters, brothers.
We all lost loved ones or folks we met.
We were there. We can't forget.

Lost in grief, awash within, life became surreal.
In time, with faith our wounds began to heal.
Some poor hearts heal 'til now. Others quicker.
While hopes for Texas City's rebirth flickered

Within our minds and in our hearts,
And toward that cause we all took part.
A family of diverse cultures, faiths, and race,
We worked as one and rebuilt a place

Unlike no other community in the land…
One common purpose, hand-in-hand.
A little town that could have quit.
Instead, we deemed it justly fit

To honor our dead with stones set down
and a living memorial; our reborn town.
Dedicated to those we lost….thought of yet.
We were there. We won't forget.

MaryAnn Maddux