Shuttle disaster memories linger in town

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NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The bronze medallion embedded in the pavement behind the Commercial Bank of Texas is easy to overlook. About the size of a DVD, it barely registers as a bump for the cars pulling into the drive-thru window.

But it is there — engraved with the name of the space shuttle Columbia and the date five years ago Friday that the spacecraft exploded over the skies of eastern Texas.

The metal disc serves as a quiet tribute to the spot where a piece of the shuttle's wing crashed to Earth in downtown Nacogdoches, and the day this tranquil town of about 30,000 was catapulted into national consciousness.

It's that way all over Nacogdoches, which proudly bills itself as "The Oldest Town in Texas" and where quaint brick streets mimic the red clay dirt found in this part of the state. Inside hotels, homes and offices — everywhere that pieces of the shuttle rained down from the heavens — reminders of that day remain. Some are tucked away meticulously in private memory, others displayed in public memorials.

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