Friday, January 27, 2006
I remember all too clearly walking the site of the crash one year ago. Eleven people died on that day, and nearly two hundred were injured.
The memorial Thursday morning was simple and beautiful. With a flag suspended from the outstretched ladders of two fire trucks, the survivors and the families of the deceased presented plaques to honor the first responders who saved lives amid the destruction. Firefighters were preceded to the scene by the employees of the Costco at the crash site, who lept towards the accident with selfless bravery that every one of us would hope to have if called upon.
Steve Toby, a technician with Los Angeles' Information Technology Agency who I know well from his work on the Council floor and from press conferences, was away from work for months after the crash. Thursday was his first return to the site of it, as it was for many there. Steve's story was told in the Los Angeles Times article about the bitter anniversary, as were other horrible, heartbreaking stories.
At the end, eleven white doves were released to honor the eleven who did not survive the crash. Among the deceased was Julia Bennett, an employee of the Los Angeles Fire Department, remembered here.
Trauma experts say that the second year, when support begins to wane and memory begins to recede for all but those directly affected, can be the hardest. I asked those in attendance to commit to not letting that happen: to making this day not about letting go of the past but committing to stay with those whom it will not let go.
More pictures from the memorial here