It happened today - November 25, 2015
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7XOaXK_kDc On November 25, 1990, the Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge succumbed to heavy Thanksgiving Day weather and sank to the bottom of Lake Washington. Now at this point you may be regretting the price of admission to this feature on the grounds that this event wasn’t really historical. Apparently it was pretty cool to watch, though, and as it happened slowly it was filmed and you can watch it if you like. But to me there’s an important sic transit gloria mundi aspect to it.
Speaking of the transitory nature of Earthly glory, my spellchecker didn’t even know that phrase and tried to make Gloria into a person. But it’s not just that the bridge, a much-ridiculed construction that worked pretty well for nearly 50 years then sank ignominiously, amusing rather than shocking the public. It’s Lacey V. Murrow.
Who? You ask. Well exactly. Who was this guy, completely and perhaps justly forgotten before the bridge named after him suffered its now largely forgotten fate? He was the brother of “famous newsman Edward R. Murrow” who may himself fast be slipping into historical oblivion but was certainly more of a public figure in his day than, um, did you say Lacey?
Yes. And he was in fact the Washington State highways director when the bridge was built. I don’t actually know why “Memorial” since he lived into the 1960s and I thought they generally memorialized you after you crossed a far greater bridge than that particular pontoon construction east of Seattle. I also think naming things after minor bureaucratic potentates in your own outfit smacks of obsequiousness and vainglory.
Murrow may have been a fine man and we shouldn’t just build monuments to the truly great, the successfully ambitious and the nightmarishly prominent. But at the same time we might choose, say, a soldier with no known grave over a functionary with no known achievement.
Remember Cato saying that when he died he would rather men asked why he had no statue than why he did. I feel that way about Murrow’s bridge and memory sinking slowly into obscurity, to the point that I can’t even figure out why a website devoted to important historical events would list this one.
As to why I decided to comment on this unsuccessful dredging up of the event, apart from being vulnerable to the modern penchant for watching pointlessly diverting rubbish online (admit it, you watched it), it’s to remind you that being “who dat” a half century after you die is not the sort of thing you should focus on during your time on Earth.
What really mattered about Murrow couldn’t be put on a sign, and what could be didn’t really matter.