BRISTOL, Va. - Virginia Intermont alumnus Bart Smith, who died in a helicopter crash in 1991 at age 28, was memorialized in a May 13, 2013 dedication ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
The Journalists Memorial, located in the seven-story Newseum, pays tribute to reporters, photographers and broadcasters who have died reporting the news. The names of more than 2,000 individuals from around the world are etched on the glass panels of the soaring, two-story structure.
Each year the Newseum rededicates the Journalists Memorial, adding names to a panel and stories of those individuals recognized in interactive kiosks in the gallery. A few days before the ceremony, the names and photos of the journalists honored at this year's dedication were projected on the Newseum's 74-foot First Amendment tablet.
Smith, the son of longtime Virginia Intermont employee Mary Lou Smith, graduated from VI in 1985 as a mass communications major. He was a photojournalist for WTVD-TV in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and was killed on assignment when the news helicopter's engine failed while returning from a high school football game in Wilmington, N.C. He also interned here at WCYB many years ago.
Mary Lou Smith attended the May 13 memorial dedication in Washington and sat on the front row which was reserved for families of the honored journalists. She described the ceremony as the most moving and inspiring she has ever experienced. "It is the most impressive museum, and what is so amazing about the memorial is that it honors journalists from all over the world," said Smith. "Bart was one of few Americans honored at this dedication among many international journalists."
Also in attendance were former colleagues of Bart Smith, ABC11 reporter Ed Crump and Karen Koutsky, a former ABC11 assignment editor who was engaged to Smith.
Mary Lou Smith echoed the words of others close to Bart who spoke of how he loved journalism more than anything and he died in the line of duty.
"He would have been very pleased to be recognized here and is probably looking down on us now," she said. "It is amazing how quickly the time has flown, but yet it seems like it could have been yesterday since we've seen him."