January 14th, 2009

carole lombard 03
  • vp19

In its own way, an obscenity

The following photo may be the closest thing to an obscene picture I've ever run at this community. There's no exposed private parts or graphic violence, mind you, but after looking at the photo -- and learning more about it -- you will likely share my revulsion.

The photo was taken at Mount Potosi in Nevada. And the grinning young woman has, around her head, a piece from this:

I have no idea who the above woman is, and if she happens to see this, let me emphasize this is not a personal attack on her.

I doubt she knew who Carole Lombard was or what she stood for.

I doubt she was aware nearly two dozen other people -- most of them Army pilots going to serve their country 40 days after Pearl Harbor -- died with her.

I doubt she understood she was holding an item from a genuine tragedy, not a souvenir.

I doubt she realized what she was doing was an insult to the dead..

At least I doubt she knew these things. If it turns out she did, heaven help her.

I've never had any desire to go to Mount Potosi; for one thing, it's government property and the public is technically prohibited from visiting the site. Some do anyway, and if so, I only hope it's out of respect for the memory of Lombard and the others who met their fate there. People who have gone there say it's an extremely rugged, difficult and dangerous climb -- this isn't a national park like Yosemite or Shenandoah, so don't fool yourself into thinking otherwise -- and the last thing any of us want to see is this mountain claiming yet another victim.

But there's another reason why I would dissuade anyone from going to the site. From the day this community began some 19 months ago, I've tried to stress not how Carole Lombard died, but how she lived. What made her special isn't that she was a film star who left us at a premature age, but that she was one of the most beloved people in the entertainment industry, by those of both mighty and meager status, and was so highly regarded while still alive because of her generosity to other people.

That's how she deserves to be remembered, especially with the 67th anniversary of her passing only days away. And you can be certain we will pay her a fitting tribute.
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