Flight 5191 memorial design unveiled



By Sarah Pickerel

After several years of planning and going through nearly 50 submissions, a volunteer committee announced their decision to place a memorial sculpture in the Arboretum in time for the fifth anniversary of the Flight 5191 crash.

The volunteer committee revealed a miniature version of a memorial sculpture last Thursday, which will soon be placed in the Hospice Remembrance Gardens at the Arboretum. Douwe Blumberg’s design of 49 silver birds in flight is the chosen design.

Blumberg said after hearing what the committee was looking for, he immediately pictured the winning design for the memorial.

“I think everyone can appreciate the beauty and hopefulness represented in the birds flying free. For loved ones of those lost, the memorial is very powerful,” Blumberg said. “Sometimes when an idea comes to you, you immediately know it’s perfect, and this was one of those cases.”

Blumberg said although he couldn’t begin to imagine what those touched by the crash were going through, the sculpture was in some ways, a way to show his empathy.

“I myself am a pilot and have a lot of friends who fly for Comair. On the day of the crash, we all freaked out because no one knew who was on it,” Blumberg said. “It was truly traumatic and it really stuck with me.”

The memorial will be 17 feet tall and include the names of the crash victims and the first responders at its base. However, Blumberg said the most unique detail is what is contained inside the sculpture.

“Putting mementos from loved ones sealed inside each bird is what’s so powerful. The families really appreciated it,” Blumberg said. “The memorial is an extremely unique piece; one so connected with what it represents.”

The memorial is expected to be in place at the Arboretum by the fifth anniversary of the Flight 5191 crash in August 2011. Blumberg expects the memorial will hold some significance for all those who visit it.

“With so many hospitals located nearby, the Arboretum has become a place where people go when they’re struggling with different issues,” Blumberg said. “Our goal was to help create a place for reflection and somewhere people can come to when they need an uplifting environment.”