As another day passes in the 35W bridge collapse recovery, another harsh, condemning and judgmental generalization seems to surface, adding hundreds of Minnesotans whose compassion makes our state great to a list of "repulsive and compulsive gawkers." Such labeling is hard, cold and indifferent. It reflects a nasty attitude among some who want to claim an exclusive right to the best view of I-35W bridge collapse scene. Photo by Nolan Cramer
As another day passes in the 35W bridge collapse recovery, another harsh, condemning and judgmental generalization seems to surface, adding hundreds of Minnesotans whose compassion makes our state great to a list of "repulsive and compulsive gawkers." Such labeling is hard, cold and indifferent. It reflects a nasty attitude among some who want to claim an exclusive right to the best view of I-35W bridge collapse scene.
This undocumented and unkind generalization drifts far off course from the initial praise from the mayor and governor regarding what makes Minnesota such a great state: the quickness of residents who gave a helpful and willing hand to join in the initial rescue. To sense need and then respond is more blessed than an up-turned nose claiming a seat in the court of privileged spectators.
As I looked at "crime scene" tape officials used to cordon off the bridge area, I took particular note of attitudes, and engaged in many conversations which refuted the classification of the spectators as "groupie gawkers".
Willingly and meaningfully, most everyone I asked offered their location on Wednesday, August 1, at 6:05 p.m. Honor, respect and compassion were -- without exception -- reflected in the manner in which this foot traffic moved, stopped and reflected.
One week after the collapse, I met another non-gawking resident beneath the 10th Avenue Bridge. This was an appropriate place for us to share our evaluations of many of the dimensions of the rescue, now recovery tasks underway. We could understand the praise given to those citizens and agency personnel directly involved in the rescue and recovery efforts.
There is a time to honor and recognize contributions made in times of great need, we affirmed. But denying access to others who want to see, and grieve, is a serious mistake.
Thousands pilgrimaged to this bridge turned temple, offering reverence and gratitude for the ones who, without choice or plan, were marked to end their journey within the sanctuary of those flowing waters.
Who would justify the denial of the sacredness of this place and silence the message of harmony from so many, considered so blessed, for their lives spared from this tragedy? Who can guess the number of the many that were free to continue their journey across those waters?
May the dreams of those brought to an end so abruptly by imperfection and stress become permanently etched in our memories.
Bridges are not built above grave sites, nor are they constructed over cemeteries. Where there is a bridge there is a rightful and needed crossing of a constant barrier. Presently, many are being denied opportunity to fathom the meaning and etch the memory of lost lives on their minds and hearts.
What if we allowed organized motorized and foot traffic on the Tenth Avenue Bridge on a fee basis to support a victims' health fund?
Would authorities once again find some fabrication to declare this a "gawker" interference of a crime scene?
I reflect on this tragic event, remembering all the trips I made across that bridge since its dedication. I cannot escape the horrifying imagery of that moment of collapse at 6:05 p.m. on Wednesday August 1, 2007.
From this day forth I will dedicate my efforts to have the new bridge, upon the day of dedication, carry the name "Reverence," for all whose journey on the bridge ended.
More than one set of flashing red lights was visible in my rear view mirror shortly after 6:05 p.m. that day.
Initially, curiosity set in when the first vehicle was pulling a speedboat. A quarter mile more down Highway 65 in Blaine, a second vehicle was pulling a pontoon boat. Curiosity increased to serious speculation. By the time I was headed down 35W toward the Highway 36 intersection, off t