Sal Malguernera  /  NBC News
The tombstone of Michelle Bohlin, a victim of the TWA 800 crash.
By Rehema Ellis Correspondent
NBC News
updated 7/17/2006 4:32:01 PM ET 2006-07-17T20:32:01

Montoursville is a close-knit middle class town in the hills of Pennsylvania. So close that a warm summer night in July would change this community forever. 

"This is the latest we have on the flight that crashed tonight — TWA Flight 800 — into the waters off Long Island, New York," reported Brian Williams in an NBC News Special Report on July 17, 1996.

A decade ago, 16 students from the Montoursville High School French club died along with their five chaperones. In the days that followed, blue and gold ribbons appeared everywhere — signs of sorrow.

Today most of the ribbons are gone. Lives have changed, but many people here in this small community of 5,000 remember the tragedy 10 years ago like it was yesterday.

They remember that 17-year-old Amanda Karschner worked at a local sub shop and marked her trip on the store's calendar.

Amy Walton, a co-worker and friend, recalls a terrible lesson learned.

"I cannot believe it's been 10 years," she says. "From the whole experience I learned to live everyday, to live every day like — not like it's my last — but like it's my best day."

For awhile, Cory Loudenslager practiced aviation law, inspired by her sister, Jody, whose trip to France was her first flight.

"The one thing that rips your heart out too is that we all went to the parking lot of the high school to see the kids off," she remembers, "and I didn't really see what the big deal was. They were going to come back in 10 days."

Cross country coach Stephanie Bedison also coached Cory's sister.

Today she helps organize a race, reminding the community the victims are never forgotten.

"I think people can look at Montoursville and know that it is a very loving community that will care for you no matter what kind of tragedy you've endured," says Bedison.

Montoursville is moving on, with vivid signs of a tragic past defining the kind of place it is now.

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