I don't know how many of you outside the Boston area heard the tragic news that two firemen were killed in a large 9-alarm fire in Boston last Wednesday. Perhaps more than a few, given the viral spread of this image across the interwebs.

As thousands of firefighters from around the world arrive for funeral services this week, coverage has made me think about how people react to tragedy; their actions, and especially the memorials they create. Follow me below the dingledoodle squigglie dKosagnocchi dividerthingie fold after a word from our sponsor...

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After the Boston Marathon bombings last April, a memorial at the site grew to include thousands of items - running shoes, teddy bears, flowers, notes. It remained for several months before being removed and archived, a subset of which will be displayed this month at the Boston Public Library.

I know they are the response of people who want, need to grieve an event. I know they are powerful places of support and healing for many. I in NO way at all mean to suggest they are a bad thing, or shouldn't occur. But I don't understand it, not in a personal way.

In the Boston Globe article I read Friday were two stories that left me thinking I don't understand.

1. A man walked into the fallen men's fire station, took off the rosary beads he's worn around his wrist for 15 years and gave them to a firefighter:
“God will be always in those beads, and God will be anywhere those beads go,” Jaro said as he walked back out into the sunshine, pulling up his jacket sleeve to reveal two rows of shallow dents in his wrist where the beads had lain against his skin for 10 and 15 years. “I feel like I’m empty, but I know it’s going to the team that needs it most.”
2. A homeless man who said the two firefighters used to buy him coffee sometimes, scraped enough money together to buy a bouquet to add to the memorial.
More recent stories have shared how the outpouring of items and especially food have overwhelmed the fire station, which has one refrigerator and has so much food they cannot eat it all. Which brings me to wonder whether the outpourings are more for the giver than for the recipient, no matter how well-intentioned. Why do people feel the need to do these things for people they may never have known in life. Why bring flowers or teddy bears to leave in a pile that in many cases will merely find its way to the trash? Why bring gifts, food, etc that overwhelm the recipients? Help me understand.

I never went to the Boston Marathon memorial site. I in all likelihood won't visit the memorial that's currently a place of solace for many. I'd like to think that the two firefighters who gave their lives would appreciate it just as much if I instead go to my local firestation and say "Hey, could you guys use this gift card to the grocery store to cook a meal? Or would a donation to help fund whatever you're most in need of be better? I want to thank you guys for all you do."

Oh yeah - if I'm ever the victim of tragedy and you want to do something, by all means do. Just... please don't leave a bouquet. Don't mark the site where I died, if it's not my house or a hospital bed. Don't waste clothing that someone living on the streets could wear. Please give flowers to someone whose day they will brighten, perhaps someone at the local nursing home or hospital who has no one to bring cheer. Donate a teddy bear to a family shelter or ask the Department of Children and Families what you can do to help in my honor. Check to see if Mr. Brillig and the kids need food and if so, what would be most helpful. Then check back in two weeks, or a month, when the immediacy has worn off but the grief still remains. Remember me by the things you do for the living, and I'll live on in those.

So what about you? Do memorials at tragic sites draw or repel you? How to you give voice to individual sadness and grief, or come together in community to react to events?

Thanks to BeninSC for formatting tonight's Tops. It really is more fun to collaborate on these diaries, and I love our reciprocating!

Brillig's ObDisclaimer: The decision to publish each nomination lies with the evening's Diarist and/or Comment Formatter. My evenings at the helm, I try reeeeallllyy hard to publish everything without regard to content. I really do, even when I disagree personally with any given nomination. "TopCommentness" lies in the eyes of the nominator and of you, the reader - I leave the decision to you. I do not publish self-nominations (ie your own comments) and if I ruled the world, we'd all build community, supporting and uplifting instead of tearing our fellow Kossacks down.

Short form: No agenda, and I publish all noms and let you sort out what it all means to you. No self-noms. Until dailykos gives me a salary, all thoughts are my own :).

From paz3:
This comment by ivorybill tries to interject some perspective into the Republican reactions to Obamacare, with the really enormous problems our planet is facing.
Edge PA flagged this one by Thyme4Thought.

TomP flagged this one by native.

From BeninSC:
Flagged by dharmafarmer, this comment by NCTim links to a Dilbert cartoon wherein - yes! - apples and oranges are compared!

Flagged by Reaniel, this comment by Cardinal Fang cites President Obama, from the fine Affordable Care Act press conference today!

From Yours Truly, brillig:
I almost never do this, but BeninSC's tip jar in last night's Top Comments was utterly brilliant.

In Ismay's nice catch about Faux's report on the high school senior accepted at every Ivy League school, the question turned to why the diarist is concerned about race being omitted. There were many great answers, but this one by slatsg and this by Diogenes2008 get my noms.

Tracker explains why it's ok for Hobby Lobby to do as it does, not as it says. From Hunter's Hobby Lobby invests in contraceptive, abortion drug manufacturers.  

Top Mojo for yesterday, March 31st, first comments and tip jars excluded. Thank you mik for the mojo magic! For those of you interested in How Top Mojo Works, please see his diary FAQing Top Mojo!
  1) Declining on Faux News has to be a very by DerAmi — 241
  2) Wow... by bepanda — 214
  3) Oh, and Mr. Dowd? by BenderRodriguez — 178
  4) Here are some good ones. by Dartagnan — 139
  5) A lot of young people in those lines by Puddytat — 127
  6) You are right by HeartlandLiberal — 120
  7) Funny thing is, I didn't even consider doing it by Brainwrap — 116
  8) Remember when Jim DeMint said the ACA by chicago minx — 111
  9) Thanks for the laugh. by Calvino Partigiani — 110
10) I do not by fladem — 105
11) My thought was by onionjim — 105
12) I could easily be wrong, but I think you've by Yasuragi — 99
13) When I was a little kid the mean girls asked by 88kathy — 99
14) The disgust I feel is almost beyond words by LaFeminista — 97
15) I guess history will judge that by NeverThere — 95
16) Thanks. This brought tears. We received by cv lurking gf — 94
17) I just emailed the mayor's office ... by niemann — 91
18) March 31 breaking all sorts of records.. by Zeta Retuculi — 88
19) Roll in with armoured vehicles to a protest? by cai — 86
20) thanks for sharing your experience by TrueBlueMajority — 85
21) Beautiful diary. by Shockwave — 82
22) The first of many suits, I'm sure. by Giles Goat Boy — 79
23) Yes, beautiful. by Fiona West — 75
24) The judge should be by gchaucer2 — 72
25) Good decision by scribeboy — 71
26) And of course it never occurs to the police ... by niemann — 70
27) When they started yelling "Slut" at by blueoregon — 69
28) on the bright side: by BPARTR — 69
29) Excellent diary by gchaucer2 — 69
30) I've investigated myself. Trust me, I have done... by terrybuck — 68

Top Pictures for yesterday, March 28th.  Click any image to be taken to the full comment. Thank you jotter for the image magic!
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