Many people believe that history only happens to dead people--it's all dusty books and talking heads from long, long ago, too long ago to be relevant to what is happening today. Not true.
No, this isn't going to be a "those who do not learn from history" speech. I just want to point out, as a recent AP article has done, that every big news story is our history. The 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis is just as much a part of our history as 9/11 and World War II.
So, in the spirit of saving first person accounts of current history, this is the email I got from the Goddess of Asphalt in Minneapolis on August 8, 2007, with her take on the bridge collapse:
"This is a link to a livejournal page. It has some of the most heart stopping photos of our crumbled bridge. It also shows how many ordinary citizens came to help. It makes me sad that the press is looking for a scapegoat and calling us Minnesotans that go to places like the Stone Arch Bridge "Gawkers". I was there yesterday and it had the air of a funeral. Some people cried, some prayed and many just stood in disbelief. There were flowers, messages and a solitary American Flag.
I think Minnesotans need a place to mourn and take in the enormity of what has happened. It is really hard to get your mind around. I work in the construction industry and it is hard for me to comprehend. This bridge was 2000 ft long, 6 lanes wide, not including the breakdown lanes. The World Trade center towers were each about 1,368 ft tall, so this is a LOT of concrete, steel and rebar.
We have confirmation that there are 80 vehicles in the water, on the crumpled decks and on the parts that have not completely fallen. Considering that our injured topped 100 and the fatalities will probably be under 20, we were very very lucky.
Thanks to all of you for your calls and emails seeing if I was ok and if my friends were ok. It made a horrible situation easier to take knowing I had all of you there.
The commentary [on the linked page] is in Russian, but I went to freetranslation.com and got a rough translation:
"On August, 1st at 18:10 on local time (03:00 Moscow time) in Minneapolis the bridge through Mississipi has fallen. On preliminary data were lost 9 person (on specified on today's evening - 4 persons), 20 are considered gone. In the river have appeared about 50 cars. The governor of state Tim ïîëåíòè has told, that in the school bus which went at this time on the bridge, there were 60 children, some of them are wounded.
On the bridge constructed in 1967, repair work were spent. The length of a design made 160 meters, height above water - about 20 meters. In day the bridge served up to 2000 thousand cars."