May all who cross the canyon on this memorial bridge travel their life journeys with the strength and inspiration found in the high ideals and heroic deeds of these brave humble men. Inscription at the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge (Hoover Dam by-pass bridge)
Buck snapped this photo quickly. I didn’t want to stop and pose. I wanted to get off that bridge as fast as I could without actually flying from it as I feared might happen. You can tell by my strained
grimace smile that my heart wasn’t into staying up there a moment longer.
You can see tiny people on the bridge if you squinch up your eyes and use your imagination. When we parked at the base and walked up steps and ramps to reach the pedestrian walkway, a smooth-headed man stopped us and warned Buck he had better have a chin strap for his cap. “I had hair before I walked up there,” he laughed. Once we reached the walkway and started across, I was more concerned about my entire body than just my hair. Buck grabbed for his behind-the-ear hearing aids and stowed them quickly in a deep pocket.
We got back in our car and drove deeper into Black Canyon to see the dam, the power plant and towers, and Lake Mead.
I’m not going to regurgitate facts and figures about the history of Hoover Dam. If you’re reading this, you’re already a High Order Googler. The best, most riveting account I have seen and heard about the history of this phenomenal project was recommended to me by my friend, Betty Hunter, and I highly recommend it. It’s a PBS series called The American Experience. They have five segments on Hoover Dam. I watched two last night, and look forward to finishing the series this weekend.
I look at our photos from Hoover Dam, remember the breath of that mighty wind from the bridge and how it made me feel like a tiny feather in a great big world.
Two men bookmarked the first and last recorded deaths during the construction of Hoover Dam: J. G. Tierney, a surveyor, on December 20, 1922 and 13 years to the day later, his son, Patrick W. Tierney. More than a hundred people died to harness the power of the magnificent wild Colorado River. The by-pass arch bridge, completed in 2010, is co-dedicated to the late Army Ranger Pat Tillman, killed in Afghanistan by so-called “friendly” fire. Since returning home, I have revisited the disturbing story of his death.
I don’t have any relatives serving in the armed forces. I don’t even know anyone who is currently serving. But I do know this: when our family gathers on Monday for a cookout and a swim, we’ll talk about Pat Tillman, the Tierneys, and the ongoing sacrifices made every day by our military and their families and others who work for the good of this country we hold so dear. And we’ll talk about what we can do, however small, to support those who are carrying the load for us all.