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Published 5/19/2002
Bath remembers 1927 school tragedy
Township holds memorial for 45 killed in bombing

By Robert Snell
Lansing State Journal

BATH TWP. - Seventy-five years haven't softened the pain of the day a man blew up Dean Sweet Sr.'s school.

BECKY SHINK/Lansing State Journal

Remembering: Dean Sweet Sr. wipes the tears from his eyes Saturday during a memorial on the 75th anniversary of the Bath school disaster. Sweet, class of 1933, is a survivor of the May 18, 1927, bombing.

Sweet cried softly during a somber memorial service Saturday marking the 75th anniversary of the May 18, 1927, Bath School bombing. He was too overcome to talk.

On that day, disgruntled taxpayer Andrew Kehoe bombed the school, killing 38 children, seven adults and himself.

The incident was considered the worst act of domestic terrorism before the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building killed 168 people in 1995.

"We're drawing together a tightknit community to show that 75 years has passed, but we haven't forgotten," township Superintendent Scott Adkins said.

More than 200 residents - and a few survivors - attended the community service and a moment of silence at James Couzens Memorial Park.

Resident Gene Wilkins displayed a book, "My Scrapbook on the Bath School Bombing," which is intended as a memorial to those who died.

The 96-page book includes a collection of photographs and memories from survivors.

At the ceremony, a firefighter rang a bell 45 times, once for each of Kehoe's victims. Children sang "Amazing Grace."

The event was a celebration of spirit and endurance to show the bomb ripped apart the school, but not the community.

Supervisor Lynwood McGonigal grew up in Bath. He remembers seeing one neighbor missing an eye in the aftermath of the bombing. Another had only one foot. But their spirits overshadowed those losses.

"They never lost their will to survive and endure," McGonigal said. "They rose above."

The school was eventually rebuilt and filled with students raised by decent, hard-working citizens, McGonigal said.

"They contributed to the public welfare and stand as a memorial to those who lost their lives," he said.

Former Bath School Administrator James Hixson left those in attendance with what he considers the bombing's enduring message.

"We should treasure each day with our loved ones," he said.

Contact Robert Snell at 377-1052 or rsnell@lsj.com.

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