- Special Sections
By BOB SHRALUKA
It is difficult to find the words to describe one's thoughts about the death of a young man like Nick Taylor. It is unimaginable to know the grief and pain being suffered by his family.
We never met Nick Taylor, but we know quite well young men like him, full of energy, ready to shape the world, to contribute to a community, to settle into a life of family and hope and aspirations. Thinking of how it would be if this happened to one of them and their families only gives one a glimpse of what the Taylor family has been going through ... and how their lives will never again be the same.
Surely the family has found some solace in the utterly overwhelming support shown by the Berne community and by so many others. To have thousands of people who never knew Nick Taylor or his family, — and maybe have never been in Berne — to line that procession route on Sunday absolutely jars the mind. Even in Allen County.
So many people came out on a Sunday afternoon simply to demonstrate that they care. The flags, the signs, the waves ... the tears. They were all there Sunday ... and Monday ... and Tuesday.
It's been a long, tough struggle for many, but nothing compares to the hurting within the family. The hope that we all share is that the Taylors may now begin to find some peace, some strength to discover better days are in fact ahead ... while we all remember a young man whose life ended with honor and dignity ... whose sacrifice will never be forgotten.
Allow us, please, to offer up some good words for people we see a lot of: the editorial staff of this newspaper.
The loss of a soldier is a huge story, especially in small towns like Berne, Decatur, and the like. And covering a story of that magnitude is not by any stretch easy for a small staff; it takes extra time and extra effort, far and above the norm — a norm which is mostly hectic daily, anyway.
But our folks — J Swygart, Kristin Baron and Jannaya Andrews — stepped up and stood out. They volunteered for Saturday and Sunday duty, which makes a five-day-week even longer, and came through big-time. And they did so showing respect for the situation and a caring attitude for those suffering deeply.
Yeh, we're prejudiced. But we think our coverage in photos and in the written word of the tragedy of a fallen soldier just beginning his adult life was pretty darn good, certainly good enough to be proud of.
Sadly, it was, however, a story we wish we did not have to tell.
Terrible tragedy indoors
In the wake of last summer's tragedy at the Indiana State Fair's outdoor concert, fair officials have moved this year's major concerts to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Once the expansion of the Fairgrounds Coliseum (former Pepsi Coliseum) is complete, the concerts will be held there.
The move indoors is being done to provide a safer venue in the event of storms like those which hit the fair last year. The irony of that move is that the one of the worst tragedies in the state's history occurred INSIDE that same building.
More than 4,000 people were attending the opening night of a Holiday on Ice show on Halloween night, October 31, 1963, when, around 11 p.m., gas leaking from a faulty valve on a rusty propane tank in a concession stand came in contact with a popcorn machine and ignited. A horrific explosion sent people, seats and huge chunks of concrete flying. Falling concrete killed some people.
Then the remaining propane tanks exploded, unleashing a fireball that incinerated people in its path.
When it was all over, 74 people had lost their lives — 52 of them at the scene — and nearly 400 were injured. The floor of the coliseum was turned into a temporary morgue until the bodies could be identified.
A Marion County grand jury later indicted fire officials, coliseum managers, and gas company personnel on various charges. Only one conviction was handed down, however, and it was eventually overturned by a higher court.. Victims and survivors were awarded some $4.6 million in settlements.