Michael Anderson mural dedicated

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Jul. 4—PLATTSBURGH — The ceremony honoring Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson and the dedication of a mural depicting his time as a NASA astronaut was filled with smiles and heartfelt music Sunday morning in downtown Plattsburgh.

"All the work that everybody in the community has done ... the arts council, they have just been so amazing," said Sandra Anderson, Michael's wife.

"Everybody's just been so wonderful ... it was the impetus that we needed to get back to Plattsburgh."

BORN IN PLATTSBURGH

Anderson was born in Plattsburgh at the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base Hospital on Christmas Day 1959 the son of Bobbie and Barbara Anderson.

He went on to become an officer in the Air Force and was stationed himself at PAFB when he got the call that he was accepted into NASA.

Anderson went on the fly in space as STS-107 Space Shuttle Columbia payload commander.

Sadly, he and six fellow NASA crew members died when the shuttle disintegrated on re-entry on Feb. 1, 2003.

OUTSIDE MURAL

A massive mural of Anderson in his space suit was painted on the side of the Westelcom building at 23 Durkee St. last fall by renowned artist Brendon Palmer-Angell, also a Plattsburgh son.

The project was a collaboration among Outside Art: Plattsburgh Public Art Project, Fesette Realty, Clinton County Historical Association and the Plattsburgh Air Force Base Museum.

Sunday's ceremony, "Reach for the Stars: the Michael Anderson Mural," served to formally dedicate the mural and honor Anderson and his family who flew in from across the country.

The family even got to serve as the Honorary Grand Marshalls of the city's Fourth of July parade.

GOSPEL CHOIR

The dedication ceremony was highlighted by songs from the Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir, led by Artistic Director Dexter Criss.

One of the songs, "My Help Comes from the Lord," was special for the Anderson family.

"It brought up a lot of emotions ... it's one of these songs that points your focus to the Lord in the times of tragedy. They sang it at Michael's memorial in Spokane so that is just a special song."

MEMORIES

Sandra said the visit has brought back many memories for her and daughters Kaycee and Sydney who were 1 and 3 respectively when they left Plattsburgh.

She showed them the Oval where they used to play and reminded them when they used to look out over Lake Champlain in hopes of spotting Champy.

"It's been great for them to have that connection," Sandra said.

The mural has been a bright spot for Sandra and her family, and she is highly impressed with Palmer-Angell's attention to detail and his amazing craft.

"He is just crazy gifted and it is just amazing, and to see all of the other murals around Plattsburgh was fun too," she said.

"It really is true, art just does something to you."

TOUCHING

Sandra said her husband was very humble and probably would have downplayed all the attention, but would also have been very impressed.

"Michael would be happy that you honored him, but he was also very humble and was very non-assuming and did not like a lot of focus on himself, but he would have been honored that the people of Plattsburgh thought so much of him," she said.

"It was really touching to my heart to think that the City of Plattsburgh would honor Michael."

Email Joe LoTemplio:

jlotemplio@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @jlotemplio

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