Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Collecting 9-11 e-Bay verses The Smithsonian, Dave Thomas, Dave Tarantino & Jerry Henson

"What began as just a small name tag led us to this incredible rescue story..."
The Smithsonian: "I began to seek the stories of rescuers and people that were trapped at the Pentagon, and was fortunate to come in contact with three individuals who had a few objects that survived from the Pentagon. What began as just a small name tag that belonged to a man named David Tarantino, led us to this incredible rescue story of a man named Jerry Henson, who worked at the Navy Command Center.

"Jerry was trapped by fallen debris, and Dave Tarantino and another gentleman named Dave Thomas entered the burning offices where Jerry was trapped and helped rescue him from the fallen debris. Once they were outside Dave Thomas reached over and tore off the name tag of Dave Tarantino, showed it to Jerry Henson and said, "This is a name we’ll always want to remember."

"The point is these individuals didn't know each other prior to September 11. This tragedy brought them together and it's a wonderful example of how these ordinary people put under extraordinary circumstances helped shape American History."
Lt. Comdr. David Tarantino, Jerry Henson, and Capt. David Thomas

Statement from David Tarantino at Smithsonian press conference, May, 2002 “We [Thomas, Henson, and I] think our stories just represent what a lot of people were doing that day. It was obviously a very trying day for us in the Pentagon and for the country, but I think hopefully the exhibit will show, and history will show, that it was a setback, but it was not a defeat. Even that day, people started responding. Jerry [Henson] didn’t give up. He could have easily given up.

(For a fuller, first-person account of Lieutenant Commander David Tarantino, of the US Navy Medical Corps, who was assigned to the Secretary of Defense in the Office of Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Affairs, see his recollections in Oral Histories: War Against Terrorism, September 11, 2001 to present.)

Out of the tiniest acorn grows this mighty oak of a mind-bendingly incredible parabola.

Harcourt Standard Dictionary, 1963, defines “incredible” as carrying the adjectival meaning of “not credible,” or “impossible to believe,” So the Smithsonian author of this item gets the CHRIST award for Coded Honesty Revealed in Slip of Tongue.

Perhaps a first-responder honcho, or retired military man, can get back to me with the etiquette on this one. What exactly is the ripping-name-tags-off-of-fellow-rescuers protocol? Is it allowed in special circumstances only? How about when in making-useless-points-to-crushed-victim mode? Is it O.K. for a senior officer to rip a junior officer’s tag, but not vice verse? How about epaulets with initials? Even braid and oak-leave clusters? Why is the little ditty,

“Stranded!
Stranded on the toilet bowl!
What do you do when you’re stranded,
and you need another roll?

looping endlessly in my head as I write?

I don’t mean to quibble, but, why would a responder in rescue mode rip the name tag off of a fellow R.R.M., only to say to the rescued, “This is a name we’ll always want to remember?” If the story line is to have any continuity, shouldn’t he have ripped off his own name tag as well, and given both to Jerry Henson, saying “Well hell, here are two names, you’ll always want to remember?” Then a recovered Mr. Henson, coming out of his dazed stupor post-rescue, could suddenly stumble upon this “small” bit of evidence of heroism, and thus provide the crux, context and coordination necessary for the story to make any sense?

The curator said these three men had “a few objects that survived.” I for one, am very interested in what these other objects might reveal about the further heroics of that day.

Bonus plan award: who imagined this tidbit: "It was obviously a very trying day for us in the Pentagon?" Could the line, "It was obviously a very trying day for us at the World Trade Center." ever come out of a straight face? Doesn’t the army wish it had a nice homo story-line editor and dialog coach on staff right about now?

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