1956 TWA/UAL Aircraft Disaster NHL Dedication
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1956 TWA/UAL Aircraft Disaster NHL Dedication

August 25, 2019


Well, good morning everyone. I’m Dave
Uberuaga, the park superintendent and thank
you so much for a being here today. I want to start off a safety message I was a little antsy when I first got here in a
number of folks in this group and others were quite close to the edge of the rim. So, it’s really
important to understand – that if you can observe
there are no guardrails, and that’s very close to the ledge. So, in taking
pictures and trying to commemorate this day,
let’s stay a good distance from the ledge. The view is the same from here as it is right next
to the edge. So, thank you for being here today
and thank you for this exciting time. I’m just very glad to be here. So, what I wanted to do, I just wanted to reccognize a few of our guests and then, we’ll have a few of them come up in and speak as well, So, Ron Lee, the District Director of
Congresswoman Ann Kirpatricks’s office, Ron
Lee, Thank you Ron for being here. Clint Chandler,
Regional Director for Senator Flakes office, Clint. Glen Martin, Regional Administrator for Western Pacific of the Federal Aviation Administration Glen Martin. Thank you Glen. Walter Phelps, with the Navajo Nation Council
delegate, thank you Walter for being here. and Laura Joss, Deputy Regional Director for the
Intermountain Region for the National Park
Service. Everybody in the back hear me all right?
Jay, everybody? OK. Good. Thank you. I’d like to extend a special welcome to the family
members of the crash victims who have joined
us here today. and I also want to have a special thank you and a
recognition for Milton Tso, and his presentation today. thank you very much
Milton. (applause) We’ll, I’m honored to be here today, for this
National Historic Landmark dedication and on
behalf of the Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell. On April 23 of this year, Secretary Jewell designated the
1956 Grand Canyon TWA/ United Airlines Aviation Accident Site as a National Historic Landmark. This is our nation’s highest designation of
historic places. I’d like to start the program today, by having a few
of our speakers come up and make some
comments. So, I’m going to start off with Wayne Ranney.
Wayne, would you come up and make a few
comments? Thank you, Dave. As a geologist I can’t believe this view that we
have here, and I never get tired of seeing it. Good morning everyone and welcome to Desert
View and Grand Canyon National Park. My name is Wayne Ranney and I’m the president
of the Grand Canyon Historical Society. We were
established in 1984 by a group of dedicated Grand Canyon residents wish to preserve the
rich and colorful human history of the Grand
Canyon. In the 30 year existence of our society, we have
endeavoured to keep the memory of many
human successes and failures alive on this iconic landscape, and to keep them
in focus for future generations. I guess that’s why the National Park Service
asked me to represent our historical society and
make a few comments today to give some historical
perspective on this important event that happened in
American history. We as a society have never forgotten the scope
and scale of the horrific accident in the skies
over the Grand Canyon. A little over one week ago on June 30, we
commemorate the 58th anniversary of the midair collision of two airliners, TWA Flight 2 and United
Airlines Flight 718. Memorial wreaths were layed at both mass
grave sites in Flagstaff and at Grand Canyon. About 50 family members came that day, some
for the first time since the accident. Sons and
daughters of the victims, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren were here to
remember. In most respects it was a happy event, but in
every sense it was a moving and heart rending
occasion. I was amazing that after 58 years that anyone
involved with the crash would bother to come at
all, but such is the depth to which this tragedy cut
into the lives of thousands of people. One of the themes that we continually heard last
week was how the crash severely and negatively impacted the lives of so many family members,
such as spouses and children, who were left behind in the wake of a disaster
which rippled outward much farther than the 128
people who lost their lives that fateful day. In the innocent and naive decade of the 1950s,
the people living with the loss were expected to
be strong stand tall, and perhaps pretend that it never
really happened, and would just go away. Perhaps that was an equal part of the tragedy,
that many of these people had few places to turn
to, to express their grief or feel their depth of loss. In the years following the crash, the National
Park Service reacted to the event in much the
same way. I saw this firsthand when I became a ranger at
the Grand Canyon only 20 years after the
accident. Like a lot of family members who were
profoundly wounded, the National Park Service
employees and residents of Grand Canyon Village couldn’t believe that it happened here, and wished it
would just go away. Two after crash cleanup projects were
undertaken to repair the landscape below us, but little was done to repair the broken hearts, or
the shattered lives left across the country of 169
million people, in the year 1956. And then remarkably, eight and a-half years ago
in late 2005, a chance luncheon in Flagstaff
between my wife, Helen Ranney of the Grand Canyon Association and historian Richard
Quartaroli of Northern Arizona University, started a conversation that everyone felt was
appropriate and timely to hold a commemoration event in Grand
Canyon Village to mark the 50th anniversary on
June 30, 2006. I think the National Park Service was as
surprised as everyone to see every seat in the
Shrine of the Ages Auditorium taken by people from all over the country who just wanted to
honor the people were lost recall and remember the tragedy, and touch a
piece of American history. At that commemoration we were all touched
when two family members showed up Ray Cook, who lost his father on United Airlines
flight, Ray, would you just raise your hand?
Thank you for being here. and Sally Gauthier who lost her father on TWA. That event hosted by the Grand Canyon
Association eight years ago changed everything related to this accident at Grand Canyon National
Park. It began a process whereby the accident could
be viewed in the context of the present, without
the shadows or the pain of the past. The National Park Service completely reversed
course on its long silence and began to
understand the accident not merely as a scar upon the landscape, but also a scar upon the
hearts of loved ones, who only needed
remembrance, acknowledgement and closure. Bravo to the National Park Service today for
acknowledging this event as an important piece
of Grand Canyon and United States history. Bravo. I want to thank everyone with the Park Service,
Grand Canyon Historical Society, Grand Canyon
Association, both of the airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration, who made
this designation possible. But let’s especially thank Rangers Ian Hough
and Jan Balsom who spearheaded the drive to
make this happen. Without their personal understanding of the
crash and their professional commitment to see
something done, none of us would be here today. 3 minutes, that was the elapsed time between
takeoff for both of the airliners. How many times people must have thought, if
those planes had only been delayed just a few
more seconds on the runway or somewhere on their path
towards the Painted Desert VOR line, that stretched 200 miles between Bryce Canyon
to the north and Winslow to the south. Just a few more seconds would have prevented
this crash. But the truth is, if this accident didn’t happen here at 10:31 AM on June 30, 1956 It would have happened someone else not long
afterward. With the benefit of 58 years reflection, we can
now see that we as a people were giddy with our technology and our ability to fly cross country, and
that our enthusiam for flight far outpaced the need to better regulate the sky
for air traffic. In some unthinkable way this accident needed to
happen so that the skies above us could become better
organized for safety, speed, and the modern
lifestyle we take for granted today. Regulations, especially federal ones, often get a
bad rap these days, but let this tragedy be a reminder to us all with the result can be when
there’s too little of it. On behalf of the nearly 300 members of the
Grand Canyon Historical Society, we welcome
you to the national park today, and we honor the family members who lived without a sense of
closure for these 58 years. We hope that all of you will take the opportunity to
meet these family members. You can just raise
your hand if you’re a family member – of a crash victim.
Everyone look around and see who they are. Talk with the National Park Service
representatives, they’re very obvious to find in
their beautiful uniforms. And also with any Grand Canyon Historical
Society members about this National Historic
Landmark Designation. We thank everyone for being here, and we
remember those who were lost. Thank You. (applause) And, now, I would like to call up Congresswoman
Ann Kirpatrick, Ron Lee. to give a few remarks. thank you, Ron. Thank You. Of all the years that I’ve come to Grand Canyon, I’ve never come dressed so formally – before… Just walking around I seem to have gotten some
stares. Now I know what it feels like. Yá’át’ééh abiní. That’s “good morning” in Navajo. My name is Ron Lee. I’m the Congressional
District Director for Congresswoman Ann
Kirkpatrick. and thank you for the invitation. The congresswoman regrets that she’s not able
to be here with you today, as she is in DC for votes on the floor. however, she has sent me here
to read a statement to you this day. And, it says, Dear Friends, thank you for being here today to remember the 128 passengers who lost their lives in the tragic collision of United Airlines Flight 718 and Trans World Airlines Flight 2, and to
commemorate the collision site designation as a National Historic Landmark. Today, we mourn the families, who lost loved
ones. We mourn with the families who lost loved
ones in this tragedy. Some of those families are here with us and we are grateful for their presence. We also
acknowledged that this collision was the
impetus for crucial improvements to the control of flights
in the United States. These improvements included modernizing air
traffic control, the passage of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, and the creation of the Federal
Aviation Agency, all crucial tools in keeping airplane passengers safe. For generations to come, this landmark will
serve as a reminder of what transpired over the
Grand Canyon on that sorrowful day in 1956. Those who were lost are deeply missed and will
never be forgotten. Sincerely, the Honorable Ann Kirkpatrick, U.S.
Representative, Arizona Congressional District
One. Thank You. (applause) I’d like to invite Clint Chandler, representative of
Senator Flake’s Office to come up.
Thank you, Clint. I’m honored to be with you this morning. I have a letter dated July 8, from Senator Flake
address to Superintendent Uberuaga that has
been prepared for this occasion. Thank you for inviting me to participate in the
dedication of the 1956 Grand Canyon TWA and United Airlines Aviation Accident Site in Grand
Canyon National Park. This landmark commemorates the tragic midair
collision between the Trans World Airlines Super
Constellation L-1049 and the United Airlines DC 7 that occured here
more than 58 years ago. This site will be a place of reflection and
remembrance and will serve as a memorial honoring all of those who lost their lives in what remains
one of the deadliest commercial airline
disasters in U.S. history. While paying tribute to them, we also remember
their families, friends, and others affected by the
terrible events of that day. I extend my sincere thanks to you, the National
Park Service, and the many others have made
this designation and event possible. Signed,
Jeff Flake, United States Senate. (applause) At this time I would like to invite Glen Martin, to
come up and make a few comments for the
Federal Aviation Administration. Good morning I’m rather camera shy but I’ve
realized that if ever there was ever a chance for
me to be on a postcard this has got to be the opportunity, so, feel free to
send me any great pictures of myself, if you get
the chance. Before my comments I also just wanted to say a
bit of a personal story on this tragedy. My Uncle Vincent was actually –
had flown out to Los Angeles on TWA a week
prior and was scheduled to be on this flight. and as miracles go, due to a change in plans, he
didn’t take the flight back, but I want you to know,
certainty for himself and for my family, it’s a very heartfelt for all of you and your loss and
the unfortunate nature of this accident and,
believe it or not, it is actually something that he has commemorated ever day; every year since
then, certainly an historic event. So, I would like to welcome everyone today, and
we dedicate one of the nation’s newest National Historic Landmarks, the site of the 1956 crash
involving these two commercial aircraft. We’re here to remember those who perished, acknowledge their relatives and friends, and
recognize the sweeping reforms that the
accident spurred in aviation safety. Reforms that became the basis for today’s
modern air traffic control system. The accident highlighted the fact that even
though U.S. Air traffic had more than doubled since World War Two, little had been done to
expand the capacity of the air traffic control
system or to increase safeguards against midair
collisions. Experts then realized the need to institute
positive control over aircraft flying in certain
airspace, and Congress convened hearings as you heard earlier, on the issues of airspace
and air traffic control management. In 1957, a motion was introduced in Congress to
boost air traffic control funding, both to modernize the system and to hire and train
controllers in a bid to better manage flights. Radar coverage also expanded greatly
throughout the United States. In 1958, Congress passed the Federal Aviation
Act, which, in fact, disolved the old Civil Aeronautics Authority and
created the Federal Aviation Agency, which in 1966 was renamed the
Federal Aviation Administration. As the FAA has modernized its procedures in a
traffic control facilities safety has improved exponentially. Today’s air traffic control system is a far cry from
the one that existed six decades ago. Today’s system is not only the world’s most
complex but also the world’s safest, having achieved results that could hardly have been even imagined in the mid-1950s. But, we’re not standing pat; the nearly 50,000
men and women of the Federal Aviation Administration are continually striving to push to
safety envelope. We’re obsessing in improving aircraft
certification standards, that includes unmanned vehicles that are sure to
haunt us all, very soon, We’re implementing safer and more efficient air
traffic control procedures. We’re adopting new
regulations such as the Pilot Rest and Duty Rule, which helps
address pilot and flight crew fatigue, and we’re moving beyond the historic approach of examining past accident data to a more
proactive approach that focuses on detecting
potential risks and implementing mitigation strategies before
accidents or serious incidents occur. Working together, the government and the
aviation industry succeeded in reducing the
commercial aviation fatality risk by 83% between 1998 in 2008. Our goal is to cut
it by an additional 50% by 2025. The American public can rest assured we will
never stop pursuing technologies and initiatives to make the world’s safest air traffic control
system even safer. Thank you, David, for the opportunity to come
today My sincere condolences and prayers for all of
you that are affected by this crash and thank you to all the folks here that put forth the effort to
create this National Historic Landmark. Thank You. (applause) At this time I would like to have Laura Joss, the
Deputy Regional Director from the Intermountain
Region come up and make some comments. Thank you, Laura. Thank you, David. I am so honored to be here today to share this
important occasion with all of you as a
representative of the Intermountain Region of the National Park Service. Many people know the National Park Service
through the more than 400 park units we
administer across the country; 91 of which are in this region, Intermountain. Some units are large, like the Grand Canyon that sketches out here before you, and whose boundaries encompass 1.2 million
acres. Some units are much smaller like the 52
acre Chimisal National Memorial in El Paso Texas. But, the National Park Service also has a
number of very special programs that, like our parks, help to tell America’s stories
and protect and conserve our heritage. Among these programs is the National Historic
Landmarks Program, or NHL Program, which honors nationally significant historic
places designated by the Secretary of the Interior
because they possess exceptional quality, or value in illustrating or interpreting the heritage
of the United States. Today about 2500 historic
places bear this important national distinction including the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Brodge, Alcatraz Island, the Los Alamos Science Laboratory, and the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe,
New Mexico. These National Historic Landmarks help us to
understand nationally significant patterns,
movements, and themes in American history. ensuring that the nation’s heritage will be accessible to future generations. They illuminate our rich and complex national
story, covering history that spans some 15 thousand years, from the earliest native
peoples, to the exploration of outer space. When evaluating a new site to be considered as
an NHL, the National Park Service often
conducts a study in partnership with federal, state, tribal or
local preservation officials. the academic community, independent scholars
and others knowledgeable about a particular
subject. Once the nomination is complete, owners, public
officials and interested parties are given an opportunity to comment on the nomination. The Landmarks Committee of the National Park
System Advisory Board then reviews the
nomination and makes recommendations to the full board, which then makes a recommendation
to the Secretary of the Interior. The secretary considers the recommendations
and makes the designation; its a pretty stringent process and Grand Canyon is to be commended
for working through that process for this landmark. Remarkably, most National Historic Landmarks
are run by private individuals or groups. Others are owned by local, state, tribal or federal agencies, and some had mixed public – private ownership. Due to its long and rich history, the Grand
Canyon has seven National Historic Landmarks
within its boundaries. Some of these are the storied El
Tovar Hotel, the Grand Canyon Lodge, the Grand Canyon
Depot, Grand Canyon Village, and four buildings
designated by Mary Jane Colter.Today we add
the eighth, the site of the 1956 crash of two commercial airliners that collided over the
canyon. It is tremendously important that we are able to
commemorate this deeply moving accident, to
keep this story alive, and to be guardians of the memory of those
whose lives were lost that day. It is through telling our history and through our
efforts to preserve and commemorate it, that we continue to understand each other and
learn from one another. In this way, we remind each other, that even out
of the most terrible tragedy. we can together, forge a safer and better world. Thank you. (applause) I would like to invite Mike Nelson to come up, a
nephew of United Airlines passenger Groan Chance. So, thank you very much for
coming up, Mike. You’re Welcome. well my goodness, I never thought I’d be in front of a
group this large. I’ve given two speechs in my whole life and one
of them was about 30 years ago and that was in front of my psycology class of
about 25 people. (laughs) Um. If a stammer a little, please forgive me. Oh that’s
got to be moved, doesn’t it? It would help if you could hear me, wouldn’t it?
(laughs) That is the idea, right? Um, My name is Mike Nelson. I’m the author of, “We Are Going In,” which is a
heartfelt, very thorough history of the tragedy that
we are all here to commemorate. Um… For those of you may not be entirely sure what
the ceremony pertains to, and I doubt there is
anybody left like that, because of what’s already been said. In 1956
there was a midair collision between two of the
biggest airliners of the time over the eastern end of the Grand Canyon. One plane was so severely damaged that it went
completely out of control. And the other plane was damaged enough – that
it could not climb. So, it could not be flown up and out of the canyon to a safe, flat place, where
it could at least be belly landed. They were stuck in the canyon following the river. And, both planes crashed in the canyon as a
result of damage done to them from the
collision. All 128 persons aboard perished. It is the land on which this happened that we’re
all here to dedicate. I am the nephew of Jack Groshans, one of the passengers aboard the United plane, and one of the many who died that day. I’ve been invited to share my story, which is one
person’s representations for the stories of all the
families. Um… This accident happened was only two years old. I am 60 now. I’ve lost 58 years of being with my uncle, and for
me, that’s my whole life, and I feel cheated. I feel
really cheated. I have only one dim memory of Uncle Jack, down on his hands and knees in his business suit, with the coat removed, crawling around on the living room carpet with me riding on his back,
pretending he was a horse. (laughs) And, that’s it, but at least I have that. You, know, I was only two. Um… I also feel blessed and I am not
rationalizing. Uncle Jack’s death opened up my heart in
permanent stages throughout the reminder of
my childhood. Countless times I tried to picture my uncle on
that plane descending. Again and again through my childhood I asked,
“What happened?” and my family never shut me
off. They were always willing to answer my
questions, unlike alot of families who said, “Oh,
we don’t want to talk about that any more.” And for that, I’m very grateful. and then with my own concerns about my own
life as a young man, uppermost, I forgot about
him. I was into me. It wasn’t until middle age and he resurfaced
inside of me, and I was astounded by how much
I cared. Just unbelievable. the impression that he and the accident had
made on me when I was little had evidently kept right on growing inside of me – never mind that I
wasn’t paying attention. When I decided, in my forties, to write a book
about this, I honestly felt that I had found one of
my callings in life. I’d like to read a short passage from my book to you.
This is from the introduction. Guy Groshans was a gentleman. He believed in things that mattered, and he stood with dignity for the things he believed. Guy was an optimist. He had made a success…
Is that better? Sorry… He had made a success of himself and
his confidence showed. He was a man content was his life. His wit was sharp and
his satisfaction with how he lived, gave him the capacity for heartfelt humor. Guy was an accountant for the Armour Meat
Packing Company in Chicago and was
approaching retirement. After 36 years of marriage he was still devoted to
his wife, Mildred, who had been his teenage
sweetheart. He had provided a comfortable home for her and
he did chores and handyman projects around
the house. Guy and Mildred had made a family, and had
raised their children with values, character and
dignity. His daughter Lorain, had become a grade
school teacher and then a housewife, and she
had brought Guy’s first grandson and third granddaughter into
a world. His son was the elder, and had made
guy a grandfather. Jack Groshans became a mechanical engineer, and then a purchaser in outside manufacturing for Lockheed Aircraft Corp. He had established a home for himself and his
wife and their two daughters like his father he was a gentleman, a decent
man who believed in things that mattered, and
stood for the things he believed. He had his father’s sense of humor. – I read that wrong. He also had his father’s sense of humor. At just 33 years of age an accident took this wonderful young man’s life. Broke his home, and broke his father’s heart. Guy Groshans was never again an optimist. Guy was alone grieving at his house one day,
after the accident, filled with thoughts of his son. He went to his basement workshop, the place
that was his own. It was his refuge, where he could feel comforted
in his sanctuary, where he could find clarity. At
least it always had been, and in needing these, he was drawn there. More than 20 years before he had worked
repeatedly into the night in that room creating a
beautifully detailed model train station for Jack’s Lionel train set. Guy designed it and built it from wood and other
raw materials, fashioning all the pieces by hand. It was a model of a brick building that had arched
windows and doors, framed with heavy
limestone blocks. he simulated the framing stones in relief through
notches he carved in the wood, with the mortared
cracks between them. The doors were hinged and could be opened. Inside was a wooden ticket counter, reminiscent
of a judge’s bench, stained dark and varnished, with working miniature lamps
standing at both ends. – and this is unbelievable to me –
on the roof was a skylight made of real safety
glass embeded with wire. And he didn’t skimp anywhere. He painted the station the right colors (audio garbled) (audio garbled) (no audio) (no audio) Yea, this works. Thank You. (laughs) Um, where was I? The skylight, yea.
Thank You. And then he painted the whole station in all the
right colors; it was beautiful. I remember seeing it when I was a little kid. All of this Guy remembered, sitting on the stool of
his workbench, and an unremitting series of
images other investments he had made in his son’s life
came to him. He remembered fixing Jack’s bicycle, helping
him learn how to ride it. showing him how to
make things of wood, advising him about right friends and wrong ones,
and talking about girls. He thought about how much he had loved his
son and his adoration swelled in his chest more fully, more tenderly, and more powerfuly,
than it ever had before. tears filled his eyes and he saw that all he had
given had been destroyed. For a moment, he took shelter in denying that
any of it was real, but is pain spoke the truth. Jack was gone, and Guy would never again be
able to give him his love. He shook his head and despair and cried out. For the first time in his life, Guy could not stand
up for what he held most dear. His aimless live – aimless life… (laughs) His aimless love and his grief surged and rose
and amplified each other, until he could no longer bear it, and feared he
was losing his mind. agh. Water-based ink, but, the heck with it… Agh, let it smear… Umm.. In a last act of defiance, his will to survive arose
to overthrow what was killing him, and his agony became a rage. Soft-spoken, genteel Guy Groshans became a wild man. grabbing and throwing every tool, every piece of
lumber OK. Every can of paint that he could assault, and
screaming over and over and over until he lost his voice and was too weak to throw
anything else. he collapsed in the cement floor and wept. Guy Groshans was my grandfather Grandpa is gone now, and with him went his
suffering.. All that tangibly remains of it… All that tangibly remains of it are the drops and
runs of paint that rendered it so clearly and persuasively over
half a century ago. Can after can of paint was crushed by the impact
of hitting the basement wall or the workbench, and floor, and burst open spraying its contents in
impassioned mayhem. The chaos of pigments portrayed his spiritual
disintegration. his death is a person. All over the walls and
everything else in the room. I have many of his tools. They are all splattered
with 10 and 12 colors of paint from a single
pallet. The artist is probably the most powerful proof
there is of what he went through. The artist is gone but his tortured art work has
survived him. Almost done. Hope you can handle three more pages. As I think about the effect this accident has had
long-term and the families of victims, I see many
things. First of all, I have no doubt that the effect is still
proliferating, because after all these years, here
we are, caring about what happened. thus more I liken it to throwing a stone in a pond, which
maybe not the most original analagy. the ripples
spread out and out, seemingly without end. What I’ve always wondered is, did they ever really
subside? Or do they just become so subtile that
we can’t see them anymore? In my own family, my grandfather became a
broken man, and never recovered his
confidence. He remained a good man and a hard working
man, but he seemed so meek that he let others
determine his decisions. My mom, whose brother and only sibling my
uncle was, tried to deny her ongoing pains, so
as to be strong for her parents. This made her less sensitive. I suppose there’s no need to illucidate the
consequences of that for her children. As for me, the most obvious effect of the tragedy
was to make me an author. Which was one of the only good things, that I
can think of, that it accomplished. I’ve done something big and meaningful with my
life as a direct result of the accident. As for the bad, unhealthy, destructive
ramifications of the disaster on me, let’s just say
that a confused childhood became a very difficult adulthood and so on. You can’t if someone very near and dear in a
family die unexpectedly, and not have that
damage everyone. The only question is will the damage be directly linked to the member
who died, or undirectly? As in harming the whole family dynamic. For me it was a latter.
For my mom it was both. You know, one question that comes to me is, why
should we make such a big deal out of
something that happened so long ago? And my first answer is,
because it still matters, and it always will. Something terribly tragic happened here, and to
my mind, all of those people who lost their lives
deserve our reverence. They were taken and not us. And it humbles me to realize, that to satisfy
whatever edict of gods or fates lay behind that,
it might just as well have been me. But I was spared and that realization enhances
my appreciation and gratitude for life and my
recognition that life is very fragile. And, when I feel all of that, I can’t help feel, can’t help but feel something akin to remorse. That it had to be the this or that victim who was selected, and not me. This service is first and foremost for them they have received way to little recognition
over the years In fact, incredible as it may sound, I can’t even
believe it, almost no one I ever talked to about
this tragedy has ever even heard of it. or else they don’t remember it, and that includes
people who were plenty mature enough at the
time to have been aware of the news and to have understood it. Last page. This accident is no less dramatic than the
sinking of the Titanic, and most likely no one who even knew anyone on that disaster
is is still alive, yet, every year we honor all of the victims with
commemorative documentaries, and rightly so. that tragedy can never cease to be important,
and neither can this one. Whether anyone is still alive who knew the
victims or not. The disaster gains its importance
from the victims, much more so than from us. And so we’re here to care about the victims
again, to picture them walking the ground, to tell
them again how sorry we are. That’s a tough one… Maybe we can say hello… Maybe we can say goodbye. It is all up to us; to our individual temperaments
and needs. And whichever way we honor them, I believe this
is why we’re here. Thank you very much for listening and thank you
for being here. (applause) Well… (sighs) So, what will remember today? Will we remember the words? I think so, some of the words, some of the things
that were shared today. But, let’s just stop, for a moment, and pause, and
take a quiet moment to think and reflect about what has happened, what did happen, and how
we can continue to commemorate this event. This site in the selection for the ceremony today Right out here is considered Crash Canyon and
after the ceremony, we’ll be glad … … but that line for the plaque is directly to the
crash site. So we’re here in a lot of different ways, but I want
to take a moment now, for a pause for silence in memory of all thoes
that we lost. Thank you everyone. It was on June 30, 1956 that the Trans-world
airline … Trans-world Airlines Super Constellation L1049
and United DC7 collided in what’s uncongested
airspace, right here to our left. 21,000 feet over the canyon. Killing all 128 people on board those two flights. It is this airspace right behind us that the
accident occurred. In his July 1956 monthly report, the Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent, John McLoughlin, summed the mood in the following area of the
mid-air collision. Quote, “A pall of concern and sadness settled over this general area which will remain for a long time. July 1956 will be long discussed and never forgotten.” So today, what is it that we’ll remember? We’ll remember the unfortunate accident but will also remember, it’s here at Grand
Canyon that we need to continue to keep this
story alive for those family members, for those stories that
were told over and over and over, to help the
healing that we must have, for those victims, and their families, and their
descendants. As Mike said, and others, it does not go away, the
hurt continues. The tragedy, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s so sad. and for those of lost their lives 58 years ago over
the canyon, we really need to think and commemorate. But the tragedy also spurred an unpresidented
effort to modernize and increase safety in
America’s post war airways. Culminating in the establishment of the modern
Federal Aviation Administration. Other improvements that resulted in the crash
included nationwide radar coverage, common military and civilian navigation systems, and the development of technologies such as
collision avoidance and system flight data. These are significant results from an incident here at Grand Canyon. This nomination has been an important project for the park staff, historians, families and
partners, for many years. When the 50th anniversary of the crash occurred,
our staff, working with local historians, aviation historians and many others began the process
of identifying the best ways to protect the site, and remember the events that
occurred on that day in 1956. The role of family members, some of whom are
here today was critical to making this recognition possible. It was through their involvement, through their stories, through their memories, and their fact checking, that the nomination could
move forward, and the full story of the event and
its impact could be told. I would like to expressly thank the following
members for their contributions toward making
the Historic Landmark Designation and the nomination for this event a reality. Ray Cook, for his donation of three Life
magazines depicting the event. Mike Nelson, for your writing, “We Are Going In,” and for speaking here today; thank you Mike. For Mark Gandy, for his careful reading of the
draft nomination and correcting our errors. And I’d like to extend appreciation to Northern
Arizona University researcher, Ben Carver, aviation historian, Mike McComb, researcher Susan Salvator and the Grand
Canyon Historical Society member specifically Wayne Ranney and Helen Ranney and Richard
Quartoroli. Karen Greg and Brian Blue and to my staff, particularly Ian Hough, and Jan
Balsom, for the work and dedication they did to assemble the information necessary to write the
documentation to support the National Historic
Landmark listing. I’d like to also recognize Alexandria Lord and Eric
Siebert from the National Historic Landmarks Program Office for their work on this nomination
as well. We have memorialized this event and
remembered those who lost their lives in the sky
over Grand Canyon by erecting wayside panels here describing the
events of 1956, by officially designating this as a
National Historic Landmark. It is for those moments and these places, the preserving of important chapters in our
history, and the conservation of these collective stories, that I’m also here today,
representing the National Park Service. You might also say we keep the “diary of the
American experience,” From here, to Yosemite, Ellis Island, Golden
Gate, Zion and Bryce Canyons. Wuputki, Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon and Mount
Rainer. We are caretakers of national treasures
and chroniclers of the national family tree. Each year, the Secretary of the Interior
designates a select number of new landmark sites with
exceptional value, and quality in explaining our nation’s heritage. These special properties teach us about our
past. They commemorate and illustrate our history
and our culture. Many of them you already know, though you may
not know of them as official landmarks. Think of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay. The San Franciscio Cable Cars, the Alamo in
San Antonio, the Empire State Building in New
York, Paul Revere’s house in Boston. George Washington’s estate in Mount Vernon. and Desert View Watchtower, are a few, just yards away from here, are among
all of the National Landmarks. In a land of historically notable local and regional
and national places, the 1956 Grand Canyon
TWA United Aviation Accident Site joins a list of over 2500 points on the map of American history. Of all the properties on the National Register of
Historic Places, only 4% carry the designation of National Historic Landmark. This is a distinction
and it’s no small thing. America’s National Historic Landmarks are truly
the best of the best. Exceptional places that form common bonds
among all Americans; among us here today. What is it that brought us here. Each is an indispensable chapter in our national
history. They include the shining episodes, but they also
include the darkest and the most difficult. Now this is an exceptional place, and this is our story, and will be on the special
role, that the National Park Service will keep and
guard for America. On behalf of the Secretary of Interior I’m pleased
to unveil the National Historic Landmark plaque, and at
this time I like to invite the guest speakers up for
me to help unveil that plaque. So, come on over. So, come on in here… I’m going to need your help Ron. We’re going to
go ahead and just unveil the plaque, and then, we’ll take some pictures… (applause) We’ll have a spot, not too far from here, where
we’ll have a wayside exhibit, and we’ll have the permanent stone that this
plaque will be placed in. Again, I want to thank everybody for coming here
today for this special memorial I welcome you all to take pictures with staff, with
the plaque here; and let’s remember the story that was told today.
Let’s remember it in our hearts, let’s remember that this is a national significant
point in our lives and our history at Grand
Canyon, and we commemorate it with this event, and we hope that it endures in all of your hearts
as well. So, thank you very much for coming, and thank
you guest speakers and everybody for your
presentations. Thank you everyone. (applause)

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  1. typical government presentation, so little information and little his story. if it wasn't government work, it wouldn't have to be DONE TWICE. YES, blame it on the airlines, the government, GOD forbid, it wasn't the airlines, ANOTHER reason why the people resent government incomptentece, which continues to this day nearly every catastrophic failure the government is responsible to help protect the public from.

  2. MY mother Patrica Carter Fight attendant TWA 1956 was supposed to be on flight that hit other plane and ended in Grand Canyon .She called in last min. and her friend took her place and my mother felt guilty all of her life ,even talked about it on her death bed age 80(2012) I would like to tell her family how sorry my mother was.

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