• Memorial service on Baylor campus honors fallen heroes from West explosion

    Ferrell Center, site of ceremony for West firefighters

    The 12 first responders who died battling the fire that led to last week’s explosion in West, Texas, were remembered during a memorial service in the Ferrell Center Thursday afternoon. Baylor University was honored to provide the site for the service, which was organized by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the Texas LODD Task Force.

    Following a processional down University Parks Drive that included 300+ fire trucks from all over the country, a capacity crowd filled the Ferrell Center, including President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, 4,000 uniformed responders, and thousands of other citizens paying their respects from the West, Waco and Baylor communities and beyond. Many more watched from other venues; on campus, in Waco Hall, the Bill Daniel Student Center and McLane Student Life Center, as well as at Baylor Ballpark, Getterman Stadium, and the Hurd Tennis Center, which were all opened and carried the broadcast for the overflow crowds.

    [VIDEO: U.S. President Barack Obama || Baylor President Ken Starr || Governor Rick Perry || Memorial processional]

    “No words adequately describe the courage that was displayed on that deadly night,” said President Obama, the 7th sitting U.S. President to visit Baylor, following Harry S Truman, 1947; Dwight Eisenhower, 1956; Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965; Gerald Ford, 1976; Ronald Reagan, 1988; and George W. Bush, 2002. “What I can do is offer the support and the love and prayers of the nation. We may not all live here in Texas, but we’re neighbors, too. We are Americans, too. And we stand with you and will not forget.”

    [PHOTOS: From the processional and ceremony, courtesy Baylor Photography]

    “America’s great poet laureate, Robert Frost, wrote that, ‘Good fences make good neighbors,'” said Judge Starr. “Today, there are no fences… because we are all together as neighbors. We are standing together, figuratively, arm in arm.”

    Together, the entire Baylor family honors those who died last week in West and prays for all those whose lives have been affected by the tragedy.