Today, the new 35W bridge will open for traffic. It should be a day to recognize the achievement of replacing the vital causeway so rapidly and remembering those who tragically died in the collapse. Not surprisingly, we're going to get far more of the latter:
Gov. Tim Pawlenty said the 10-lane bridge will open to traffic at 5 a.m. Thursday, with a full complement of state troopers slowly leading the way when the barricades come down. He and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak also unveiled the design for a memorial to the 13 people who died in the collapse.
The 35W Remembrance Garden will be built at a cost of $1 million in the northeast part of Gold Medal Park, which became an unofficial gathering spot after the collapse. "It shall now become a permanent spot," said Tom Oslund, who has designed a memorial that includes 13 I-beams arranged in a circle.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters was among the many speakers to note the mixed mood of the day.
"These lanes will forever be sacred because of the 13 people who lost their lives here," she said. She offered high praise for the collaboration that led to the bridge being built in 11 months.
Sacred? Isn't this going a bit far? Actually I've been saying that about the never-ending focus on the thirteen victims of the bridge collapse for some time now. If you think I'm out of line, ask yourself who you've heard more about; the victims of the bridge collapse or the69 Minnesotans who have died in Iraq? Sadly, when you compare the relative media attention it's not even close.
It says a lot about the state of our society where we can't get enough stories of victims, but seem to have little time for heroes.
UPDATE-- Tim from Kentucky e-mails:
I predict that in the future, people will exist and live in the rest of the world and that the United States will be set aside for memorials. Of course, it begs the question of where the memorial to the United States will be...