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John Hollenhorst ReportingPeople gathered for a somber memorial service today in Huntington. It honored three rescuers who died and six miners who are still trapped and presumed dead in the Crandall Canyon mine.
A community finally let go, after weeks of hoping and praying. The memorial service made it clear that families and friends are trying to move on. They're replacing one kind of hope with a different kind -- the hope that nine men have gone on to a better place.
The families arrived to mourn; the community gathered in support. For loved ones, like the brother of a missing miner, the hurt is just sinking in. "Our hopes and prayers are still with those people," he said.
With all the hugs and the tears, it's clear the hope of rescue has now surrendered to the grieving and the healing.
One speaker said, "It is love that unifies all of us."
Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. said, "These were real human beings who loved and were loved by others. Our community and our state has been hurting."
Another speaker said, "We saw people carrying and loving each other; strangers mourning for strangers'; people giving of their kindness and generosity beyond our imagination."
Mine owner Bob Murray was conspicuously absent, but MSHA's Richard Stickler was there to comfort families. "There's probably no words or nothing that anybody can do but just pray for them, and let them know we care," he said.
But some relatives wonder if MSHA cares enough, and whether the agency will ever make mining as safe as it should be.
"What we want is to make sure that this doesn't happen again," the brother of a trapped miner said.
Elder M. Russell Ballard, of the LDS Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said, "I hurt for you. I wish I could ease the heartache that you've been feeling. Let the love of God begin to heal your broken hearts."
There's one more big event planned there next Saturday: an afternoon and evening of country and pop music, celebrities and even motocross events. They're calling it a celebration of heroes.