A Lesson For Keokuk - From Air France

Many months ago, we wrote a scathing piece of commentary about a sad situation that took place in the heartland of this great nation. I am referring to the shabby treatment of the survivors of those brave firefighters that died serving their community.


Many months ago, we wrote a scathing piece of commentary about a sad situation that took place in the heartland of this great nation. I am referring to the shabby treatment of the survivors of those brave firefighters that died serving their community.

You may recall that the city government in Keokuk, Iowa refused to cover the cost of the funerals for their fallen heroes. The response to that commentary was so overwhelming that a great deal of money was raised, including the gracious gift from an anonymous donor that covered the cost of the funerals. While I was saddened by the city’s action, I was proud of the outpouring of help from the fire services all around our country.

Two events during the past few days have caused me to revisit this extremely sensitive topic. They each occurred in widely separated places, and their impact on the world in general could not have been more disparate. But there is a lesson taught in one that needs to bleed over to the other.

Our attention was literally grabbed and shaken violently by the photos of the blazing Concorde jet as it hurtled toward the ground in its date with death. As one who flies a great deal, I can only imagine the horror of the final moments of the doomed plane’s passengers en route to their final rendezvous with fate.

We were then treated to the usual media blitz upon the saddened relatives who have had their privacy torn away by the glare of the cameras and the crush of the reporters. Much has been said and written about every aspect of the flight. And many people have expressed their sympathies to those who lost loved ones. I too wish to add my name to that growing roster.

I recall many past airline disasters, where the airline involved immediately took to their bunkers and hid behind a shield of corporate lawyers. Having listened to many of these people over the years, you could almost hear them saying, "...airplane, our airplane…what airplane?" That is how callous they were. It was as though the deaths of their customers and employees was a distinct inconvenience.

This morning, I received a link to a story on the Concorde disaster from my Webmaster, Bruce Lukaszewicz. He had highlighted a particular paragraph from a New York Time story. Here is that highlighted excerpt:

Contrast this with the folks in Keokuk who could not come up with a measly $21,000 ($7K x 3) to bury each of the dedicated men who served so valiantly, and made that ultimate sacrifice. What my Webmaster did not know when he sent me this link was that I was in possession of a little story sent to me by one of you fine folks out there that I love so dearly -- my readers. The source of this story is listed as KZEG (The Eagle)-KCLN News, providing local news of the Clinton, Iowa area from THE EAGLE-KCLN radio since June of 1995.

(Keokuk-AP) -- The Keokuk City Council has rejected a couple's proposal for a memorial park on the site where their three grandchildren and three firefighters died in an apartment fire last year. Howard and Pat Bowden bought the property with a playground in mind. The council voted it down, citing insurance and maintenance concerns.

Once again the fine and dedicated citizens of the city council have said bah humbug to a fine idea. What is so wrong with having a quiet, respectable sanctuary to remember the lives of three brave men and the three young citizens they died seeking to save?

I have to ask these political troops a simple question. Are there monuments in your community to the dead of the Civil War, the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, and Vietnam? If so, I would suggest that you already have a maintenance and insurance budget. Oh, it must be very expensive in Iowa to insure a plot of land and provide someone to trim the grass and clip the shrubs.

What is wrong with you folks? I guess you just can’t fathom the concept espoused by Abraham Lincoln when he spoke of these "… honored dead …" during the Gettysburg Address. Look to the example of the folks at Air France. They could have hidden behind a barricade of barristers. That they did not speaks volumes regarding that corporation.

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