National Historic Landmark Dedication
On April 23, 2014, the National Historic Landmarks
Program named the combined crash site of the
two airliners involved in the June 30, 1956,
midair collision over the Grand Canyon
a National Historic Landmark.
I was thrilled to hear this news, and I attended the July 8, 2014, dedication ceremony held at the Desert View Overlook on the Grand Canyon's South Rim. I was there both as a member of the audience and as a speaker, the latter honor given me as a surviving family member and as the author of the book about the tragedy. I am the nephew of Jack Groshans, who was a passenger on one of the planes.
Before the ceremony officially began, Milton Tso, Navajo Nation, Cameron Chapter President humbly and beautifully played a wooden flute, filling the air with music so pure that it felt almost celestial. One has to wonder which was the greater ~ his talent or his spirit.
My speech was the last given by the seven speakers who had been chosen. In the order they spoke, those who preceded me were David Uberuaga, Superintendent, National Park Service, Grand Canyon National Park; Wayne Ranney, President, Grand Canyon Historical Society; Ron Lee, District Director, Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick's Office, Arizona; Clint Chandler, Regional Director, Senator Jeff Flake's Office, Arizona; Glen Miller, Acting Regional Administrator, Western Pacific Region, Federal Aviation Administration; and Laura Joss, Deputy Regional Director, Intermountain Region, National Park Service.
I represented the families and the loved ones they lost. I gave my views on what the tragedy meant to us and read part of the Introduction of my book, interspersed with many ad libbed comments. Being only the second speech I had ever given, I was elated to realize at several points that never for even a fraction of a second was I nervous. It was truly a spiritual experience for me and for many members of the audience who later told me so. Nearly everyone cried. What Grace may have been operating there I do not know, but I felt it, and so did everyone else. I now regard those moments as one of the peaks of my life.
After all of the speakers had finished we congregated at the front and took part together in unveiling the large, impressive bronze plaque that was to be mounted on a large stone later, making a permanent monument set at the Desert View Overlook. After that we all socialized, bringing each other into much clearer more directly personal togetherness.