NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It's been almost a year since the Christmas Day bombing that destroyed much of Second Avenue in downtown Nashville. Some who were there that day said it's still too difficult to return to the site.
But on Thursday night, those survivors joined with first responders and supporters to help each other continue to heal.
The Nashville-based nonprofit Tennessee Voices for Victims hosted a ceremony of reflection for last year's Christmas Day bombing on historic Second Avenue at The Bridge Building in East Nashville on the banks of the Cumberland River.
The ceremony was an opportunity for residents, business owners, employees and first responders of the Dec. 25, 2020, Nashville bombing to come together to have an opportunity to reflect on the impact of the bombing and the recovery that continues.
"I am happy to say I'm grateful to say that our family is in a much better place right now," said Noelle Rasmussen, the event's keynote speaker.
She and her family survived the bombing.
"We had gotten our children into our car and we're driving away and just moments later hurt and felt a giant explosion in turn to see a fireball hundreds of feet in the sky," Rasmussen said. "We pulled back around and saw a scene of truly wartime devastation. "
Rasmussen joined other survivors, law enforcement and the community for a ceremony to help the victims.
She and her family lost their home, but not their hope.
"On one hand, you lost everything in one hand, you've saved everything," she said.
The rebuilding process is in the works not only for the damaged buildings but also the internal wounds inflicted on a city.
Together, everyone at the ceremony grabbed a white rose in honor of the survivors and an olive branch for supporters.
It was a symbol of two groups coming together for healing.
"Christmas does not belong to that man who did that thing, it belongs to us, our families, it belongs to love and to God and that's how we're going to celebrate it this year," Rasmussen said.
The ceremony included an invocation, music and words from Mayor John Cooper, Nashville Police Chief John Drake and FBI Assistant Special Agent Matt Foster.