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Forgetting History

I just spoke with Lydia Ruth, the Director of Public Relations at the Empire State Building, who graciously returned a phone call to me asking about the 60th anniversary of the B-25 bomber crash. Ms. Ruth told me that there was no event planned to commemorate the event or to memorialize the victims. Sadly, the reason is because there's not much interest in the tragedy anymore. Five years ago, for the 55th anniversary, they did have a memorial, but no one came, not even the press.

Ms. Ruth also told me that I'm the youngest person ever to ask about a memorial for the event. Most of the people who call her about it are much older, and were actual witnesses to the crash.

I think that's rather a shame. I know that as time passes, historical events get forgotten, as even the immediate families and friends of the victims pass on. But in today's post-9/11 world, I thought that this city might have finally chosen to begin looking back at its past, to learn from what had happened before in order to deal with what's happening today. But as I read the local papers this morning and scanned the local television news, not a single reference to the anniversary could I find.

(For those interested in irony, Ms. Ruth returned my call just before 10 AM -- the same time when the plane hit the building, sixty years ago today.)

Perhaps I can do something to remind people of the event, like I did to remind people of the General Slocum tragedy with Time Ablaze. Maybe in five years there'll be enough interest for a milestone commemoration.

Comments

No, not many people know about it anymore. Though when I was 12 and wrote my first science-fiction novel, which honestly was a rip-off of the TV show Voyagers!, I had the main character become a witness to the crash (after I read about it in one of those Amazing Facts type books). For a long time afterward it became one of those "How can you not know this happened?" facts, especially when people made pre-9/11 comments like "I wonder why no planes have ever crashed into a skyscraper?"
Voyagers! I loved that show! I wish they'd release the one season we got (1982-3) on DVD...

When 9/11 happened, my first indication was an email that a plane had crashed into one of the towers. I immediately flashed to the ESB crash, and assumed some lone pilot in a small prop plane had gone off course.
Voyagers!: Actually it just came out on DVD; I'm planning on getting it when all of my summer traveling is done. Check eBay for the best prices. :)

9/11: So did I, actually. In fact, that was the last time I remembered the ESB crash before you brought it up again, when people were initially wondering how a plane could crash into a skyscraper. (Of course, as you pointed out, the 1945 crash was due to fog.)

Have you found an actual legitimate DVD release of Voyagers!? The only DVD sets I was able to find appear to be bootleg.

Being as fond of history (and NYC history) as I am, 9/11 reminded me of the ESB crash, the General Slocum, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.
Hmmmm...well, I thought it was legitimate, but I can't find it on Amazon, etc., so I suppose it's not.
Yeah. A few months ago, I searched for it, and found only the copies on, um, marginal websites. I don't want to pay a lot of money for a low-quality ripoff version.

I just wish we had a way of letting The Powers That Be know that we want them to release the series. Somewhere I have videotapes of the show from off the Sci-Fi Channel, when they broadcast it about ten years ago. A DVD set would be much cooler.

P.S.

Include this in a story, too?

Re: P.S.

Yeah, the question is how. I've already explored the theme of forgetting history in "Time Ablaze." I wouldn't want to repeat myself.

(Brainstorming--don't mine me)

Maybe a story centered around a future NYC crash, which somehow flashes back to the previous two?

Re: (Brainstorming--don't mine me)

Hmmm....

If I could bring Lucas Schmidt and Adele Weber back into it, I could use the story to expand the novella into a novel...

Re: P.S.

Repeating: Nelson Bond once told me that when you start plagiarizing yourself, you might as well hang it up. :)

On the other hand, one of Bruce Boston's Rhysling-nominated poems this year was just an extended version of a poem he had in Star*Line about 20-odd years ago, which was reprinted in the early 1980's in a poetry anthology titled Burning With A Vision. Then again, maybe some folks figure after 20 years you won't notice...I probably wouldn't have except I was reading the current Rhysling anthology and BWAV the same night!

Re: P.S.

It's not so much plagarizing as revisiting the same themes, over and over. I wouldn't want an ESB story to make readers react by noting that all I did was revisit "Time Ablaze." I'd have to develop something new around which to base the story.

Sounds like Bruce Boston was doing what prose writers do when expanding shorter works into longer ones, as I mentioned thinking of doing above.

(Anonymous)

Re: P.S.

BB: Granted, the extended version was much better.

Re: P.S.

Oops--that anonymous comment was from me. I forgot that I'd logged out.
You could try suggesting to the Times that they add a little "Today in New York History" blurb...?
NY1 has their own NY 1: This Day in History.
Ah. So did they list it, then?
Actually, I didn't check. :-)
Aha! So maybe it was commemorated somewhere... :-)
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