It's been called the day a generation died. On March 18th, 1937, a gas leak in the New London School in New London, TX sparked an enormous explosion after a belt sander was plugged in and turned on in a wood shop classroom.
The explosion rocked the small town of nearly a thousand people. Altogether, 293 students, faculty and visitors were killed in the destruction. It is still classified as the worst school tragedy in the history of the United States.
82-year-old Bobbie Kate Meyers was a 7-year-old second grader the day the explosion took place. She left school early to meet up with her brother, 10-year-old Perry Cox who attended New London School.
"I got my books and started back and almost walked into the building back there when it blew up," said Meyers.
"It sounded like a sonic boom from an airplane," she added.
Meyers would come away unharmed, her brother Perry wasn't as fortunate.
"He was identified by a little pocket knife he had in his pocket," said Meyers.
To remember and honor those who perished and survived the incident, a ceremony was held Sunday Afternoon in the West Rusk High School Auditorium. Nearly a thousand people and 35 survivors were in attendance for the event. The Star Spangled Banner and "Holy Ground" were played and sung and a reading of each victims name were some of the highlights of the ceremony.
New London Museum Director Miles Toler organized the event. He says it's very important that the town continue to remember the event and those who died on that day.
"We have a saying that if no one remembers them and no one speaks there name than they are dead, but today we remembered and we spoke their name," said Toler
The first book to chronicle the tragedy has been released. Authors David M. Brown and Michael Werschagin have written a book entitled "Gone at 3:17: The Untold Story of the Worst School Disaster in American History."
The book is based on interviews from survivors and years of research into the disaster.