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No Conspiracies, Just Memories at DIA

The chunk of history that isn't on display at Denver International Airport

Next week marks the sixth anniversary of 9/11, the day when America realized that terrorists could strike here — and that from now on, there would be a never-ending demand for quart-sized plastic bags at the airport. There were other, more serious ramifications, of course, as shown in September 11, 2001: The First 24 Hours, an exhibit that runs through the month at the Aurora History Museum. And on September 11, the museum will host a performance of Ken Clinton's "The Recovery Suite," a musical timeline of the day's events in five movements for handbells and French horn.

Some of the memorials to 9/11 are considerably more modest. In fact, one 25-pound piece of a girder from the World Trade Center is on display in the finance office of Denver International Airport.

After the tragedy, New York City started donating pieces of the wreckage to almost anyone who asked, as long as they agreed not to sell the piece for profit — or to sue the city for any harmful substances that might have contaminated the memorabilia. Walt Bigelow, a senior accountant at DIA, was one of those who asked, and he was given two sections of a steel girder, which he packed into his car and drove home to Denver back in 2002.

DIA management decided it might not be politic to display reminders of the tragedy at the airport, though, so Bigelow donated the larger section to the Denver Firefighters Museum, where it's currently on display. (If finances allow, the museum plans to add an exhibit detailing the efforts of local firefighters who went to New York City's aid.) The other piece has been in Bigelow's office ever since.

Now, about those underground tunnels at the airport...

Zombie alert:In the thirty years since Westwordfirst hit the streets, we've written about Florence's maximum-security federal prison, known as ADX, more times than prison officials would like to admit ("The Caged Life," August 16), and about undead zombies more than we'd care to admit ("Things to Do in Denver When You're [Un]dead," August 23). But only an author with a creative-writing degree could combine them in a novel — and use a fake Westword story and author to pull it off.

That's what zombie-genre author David Wellington has done in Monster Nation, published by Thunder's Mouth Press in 2004. (Sorry, Off Limits is three years behind on zombie reading.) The book begins with the following tidbit from a fictional March 15, 2005, article in Westword Weekly: "'MY BROTHER WAS ALREADY DEAD!' Clifton Thackeray made some outrageous claims while he was being held in a Fort Collins lockup on suspicion of involvement in a truly bizarre and grizzly [sic] murder. Last Saturday he attempted to hang himself with his belt. What really happened that night in the mountains? Our Harry Blount investigates."

For the record, Westword has no Harry Blount and no issue dated March 15, 2005. So we went to Wellington, who sent the following e-mail. "As for the reference — I lived in Denver from 1996-2002 and was an avid reader of Westword, both for the listings it provided and the quality of the reportage. I chose it to give the novel a little verisimilitude, especially for any reader who ever lived in Denver or spent much time there. Many other real world newspapers and news organs are used.... The story and its author are completely fictional, my own creation."

Now, about those tunnels at DIA...

 
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