Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster in Wales, UK. Such a tragic loss of so many lives. Half a century later, how do people affected by the disaster still cope with the grief of that event?
I myself was not even a twinkle in my mother’s eye when the land slide that engulfed Pantglas Junior School killed 116 children and 28 adults at 9.15am, but have heard plenty about it to feel only a small percentage of what those parents and families must have felt that day. How horrendous to think that you drop your child off in the morning to be educated, in what is deemed a safe environment, in your small village community, and less than half an hour later, the place of learning, fun, and happiness are destroyed, along with your loved ones.
Complaints had been numerous about the colliery spoil heap as it was believed to have been placed on top of a spring, the combination of water and debris eventually wearing away, causing 150,000 cubic metres to hurtle down the hillside. Imagine 150,000,000 of those huge water bottles that are used in office water dispensers rumbling towards you, without warning, but made of all sorts of materials. Horrendous.
Immediately, parents rushed to the scene and began digging with their bare hands to try and retrieve their children, but to little or no avail. One member of staff was eventually found dead holding several children, trying to protect them.
Few survived, and of the children that did, most are close to retirement now. To think, that 116 little families were destroyed. So many potential children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren lost within minutes.
Memorial services are taking place at 9.15am today, and one can only wonder how the grief still affects the parents, siblings, and friends of the deceased. Wherever you are today, please take a minute to remember those whose lives were cut short, and spare a thought for the families too who never got to see their children grow up in to what would no doubt have been fine citizens of their community, especially when you consider how the whole community came together on that day to try and rescue them all.
There is a lot of strength in community. Together, online, around the world, we can all be one community, thinking and caring about our fellow man.