Sunday, March 09, 2008

There's a story on the internet tonight about moving the staircase that survivors of the World Trade Center used to escape on 9/11. The original plan had been to tear it down to make way for new construction, just preserving a couple of slabs, but fortunately wiser heads prevailed and the staircase was moved out of the way by just a couple of hundred feet. The trick is to figure out what needs to be saved for posterity. I think we still don't know exactly what the lessons of 9/11 will be--right now I think we need to save everything until we understand what happened and why (not just the terrorism aspect but the reaction to the immediate event). Ultimately, much of the debris may just be debris but it's too soon to make that determination.

On a smaller scale, that is what I am doing with Thomas's things, and the letters and other memorabilia that people send us. I don't want to throw away anything that may tell us a little bit more about what happened the day he died or his life up to that point, or what people thought about him. We've been trying to store these things in an orderly fashion but in a houseful of people who apparently are suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder, this has been a challenge. Actually, I think it's been a challenge that Thomas himself would have understood. He didn't really throw things away, but he didn't put them away either. His bedroom floor served as a chest of drawers for his clean clothes (he had an actual chest of drawers but declined to use it much). He did save things though, random as his system might have been. That is why we found a shoebox in the basement with his ticket stub from "We Were Soldiers" (which he saw in May before he left for basic training) and other random souvenirs after he died. Certainly that was for us an enlightening discovery, and one we would not fully have understood any earlier.


At March 11, 2008 at 6:30:00 PM PDT , Anonymous Laurie said...

Lee Ann,
I, too, have saved every scrap (paper and otherwise). I couldn't cut the green shirt to make a quilt with, but shortened it for me to wear. I have worn it four times so far! It is comforting. Chase also saw "We Were Soldiers" before basic. He told us that Ft. Benning looked just like it did in the movie.
Keep saving.

At March 13, 2008 at 3:23:00 PM PDT , Blogger Lee Ann said...

Apparently, I am going to keep it all for a very long time to come! I have an enormous piece of furniture in my living room to hold some of it (it's a set of cabinets and shelves which are actually quite lovely in their own right). Unfortunately, the Tae Kwon Do stuff was a bit aromatic for a while so it's been in exile in the basement, along with the uniforms and the civilian clothing. I just don't know what I could safely throw away so it's all staying!

Lee Ann


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