Sadly, the collapse of an Interstate Highway bridge in Minnesota has dominated the news the past couple of days. Since the bridge is only about 250 miles from my home base here in Central Iowa, the tragedy has multiple regional angles as well.
An organization I belong to, the Association of Personal Historians, has several members from the Twin Cities area where the collapse occurred. Many of them have weighed in through the APH’s listserv with their reports. Here are some excerpts:
• Like many others, we use that bridge all the time. In fact, yesterday my wife crossed it earlier in the day.
• I live less than a mile downriver from that bridge, and it is one of my most common driving routes. Luckily I wasn't driving there yesterday evening. Just the evening before, however, my stepson and his girlfriend crossed that bridge with a heavy U-Haul full of their worldly possessions - exactly 24 hours later and they would have been in the river. That definitely qualifies as a "there but for the grace of God" moment!
• The bridge is used almost daily by various members of my family so we were quite relieved when everyone checked in safely.
Truth is, most of us face potential tragedy daily. Whether it’s racing through a stoplight after it’s cycled past orange, lighting up a cigarette or grabbing one more donut for the road, we tempt fate with our risky behavior. Sometimes, like the people on that Minnesota bridge, we’re just in the wrong place at the right time.
Hella Buchheim, one of the APH’s nearly two dozen Minnesota members, summed up the situation clearly:
“As a personal historian we know that our potential clients think about writing their stories and they think and think. Our lives and deaths are not always in our control. Things happen. Do everything you want to now since you never know what can happen tomorrow.”
The latest edition of the Carnival of Genealogy hit cyberspace this week. This edition focuses on ethical dilemmas faced in the course of documenting family history. Included is my recent post, “What should you include in your family stew?” Check out the Carnival to learn what dilemmas others have faced.