Locals shine light in darkness

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— Judy Walters stepped outside Wal-Mart Friday at 5 p.m. with a coworker and a candle. The sun shone down on the Wal-Mart parking lot as shoppers walked in and out and the wax dripped onto her fingers.

Walters, perhaps, was afflicted with the same dilemma many in Steamboat Springs have dealt with over the past few days: how to add some light to the darkness that has fallen 2,000 miles and two time zones away.

"I can't be there so I thought I would show my support this way," she said.

"We live in a really safe place, but we want to show our support."

Walters said she would let a candle burn on her patio all night so people would be able to see it.

Residents in Steamboat were confused whether they should light their candles at 5 p.m., when candles were lit on the East Coast, or at 7 p.m. Steamboat time. Walters decided to light a candle at both times.

In the end it made no difference. The candle lighting, like many displays of mourning and solidarity this week, was a personal gesture meant to reconcile people to the horrific set of events occurring in New York and Washington D.C. on Tuesday. At the same time, for many it was a way to come together with people across the country.

"The importance is solidarity and showing support for the victims," said Mindy Martin, who was checking out the candles at Wal-Mart. Walters said Wal-Mart sold many more candles than usual on Friday.

The local candle-lighting vigil was spurred by a set of e-mails sent all across the country asking people to light candles in remembrance and mourning for the people who perished in the attacks Tuesday. It was not held at a specific time or place, but observed by individuals and families throughout the city and the country as the sun went down. The mass e-mail message read: "Step out your door, stop your car or step out of your establishment and light a candle. We will show the world that Americans are strong and united together against terrorism."

Sandy Stanfill lit a candle at 7 p.m. in front of her home downtown. Standing beside an American flag draped from their roof that was taller than them, she and her husband reflected on the events of the past week.

"Everyone has their own way of showing they are involved," Bob Stanfill said. Stanfill, who fought in the Vietnam War, said he hangs his flag outside his house whenever an incident of national importance occurs.

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