Air Medical Memorial Transcript: Groundbreaking Ceremony June 23, 2011

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Krista Haugen

The Air Medical Memorial Groundbreaking

Krista Haugen
Crash Survivor and Co-founder Survivors Network

Before he was killed in Vietnam, Major Michael Davis O’Donnell wrote, in reference to his fallen comrades:

“If you are able, save for them a place inside of you…and save one backward glance when you are leaving for the places they can no longer go. Be not ashamed to say you loved them, though you may or may not have always. Take what they have taught you with their dying and keep it with your own.”

When we pause and reflect upon the lives of each of these fine souls, we find that we can take the lessons from how they died AND take the lessons from how they lived (because they knew how to live, did they not?) and carry these forward. Is there…a more powerful legacy?

Within this park will be the memorial to honor our fallen, their service, and their sacrifice, with the theme “Never Forget.” Also within this park will be the Survivors Garden. We are ALL survivors, whether we have lost a family member, friend, colleague, or endured an accident firsthand…we are all…survivors.

What does it mean to survive? To remain alive, to carry on, to live on. There is a big difference between simply remaining alive, carrying on, and LIVING on. Sometimes remaining alive is the best we can do when we’re faced with picking up the pieces of a shattered life and can hardly determine which piece to pick up first. How do we move from that to carrying on, putting one foot in front of the other, and finally being able to LIVE on?

We build a community such as this. We create something tangible out of the intangible and bring people together. Instead of being scattered across the country, alone in a unique & tragic experience, we gather together and in doing so share a common experience with others who have a level of understanding that brings comfort, support, and inspiration. We can help each other pick up the pieces, encourage each other to put one foot in front of the other, and remind each other to actually LIVE again, in the spirit of those who have gone before us.

The Survivors Garden is dedicated to you whose lives have been changed by the unexpected, who have witnessed or experienced the depth of human suffering, and whose hearts and spirits have perhaps been broken. This is a place for you to rest, reflect, and be rejuvenated, to replenish your lost and weary soul, and to remind you that you are not alone. In the quiet of this place may you find healing for your heart, mind, and spirit that leads to forgiveness, gratitude, and a life redefined so that peace may be yours.

We will always save a place inside of us for those we have lost. And at the same time we will carry their legacy of living with us as we LIVE on together.

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