Atlanta -- The peace of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics was broken ten years ago today by a domestic terrorist's bomb. An Albany woman was killed in that attack her 14-year old daughter was injured. That girl, Fallon Stubbs, is now a grown woman who tonight looks back at the night Terror Hit Home.
Today the shrieks of delighted children fill the air at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park. Ten years ago the sounds were so much different.
"Once it went off, it was like a real big boom," says Fallon Stubbs, who remembers the concussive blast of that homemade bomb and the screams of terrified visitors as if it happened yesterday.
"I remember the chaos how everybody was in disarray. I remember the people screaming. I remember seeing my mother." Fallon was at the park that night celebrating her 14th birthday with her mother Alice Hawthorne. "To, you know, feel that Olympic spirit, to be able to be a part of that was worthwhile even if it was for a moment."
The explosion ended that moment and blew shrapnel into Fallon's right side, forcing her to spend a week in an Atlanta hospital but she knew immediately her mother was much more seriously injured. "My immediate attention was to try to get her some help."
But her mother was too badly hurt. She died on the scene. There is a permanent memorial to Alice Hawthorne here at Centennial Olympic Park near the spot where the bomb exploded. It's called the Quilt of Remembrance. An etching here says the monument reminds all who visit that the light of peace will never be extinguished by anonymous acts of terror.
There is one other sign of the attack still in the park today-- marks in a eight-ton bronze statue left by the nails Eric Rudolph packed in his deadly bomb. Fallon and her mother were having their picture taken in front of this sculpture when the bomb exploded. "You know, you miss the little things like the prom or the dances or the first guy talk, boyfriend talk."
But Fallon carries her mother's spirit with her and tries to live up to the ideals Alice held dear. "My mom was the sweetest person you would ever meet. She really was caring and giving, and she really tried to bring our youth up and uplift them."
Nearly a year ago Fallon faced her mother's killer in a courtroom. She spoke at Eric Rudolph's sentencing hearing. Something she says gave her closure and allowed her to focus less on her mother's tragic death and more on her living legacy. "I just want people to remember mostly her free spirit, her capability to make anybody smile, her willingness to just enjoy life as it comes to not worry about all the small things that we may all care too much about," said Stubbs.
And that joy is exactly what you'll see today in Centennial Olympic Park A perfect tribute to Albany's Alice Hawthorne and proof her spirit lives on in the very place her body passed away.
Alice was a entrepreneur a small business owner who encouraged other business owners. Fallon Stubbs shares that spirit. She hopes to open a clothing store soon, and she's still working on an Alice Hawthorne Memorial that will include residential and commercial development near Albany State as well as an education center and scholarships in Alice's honor.