The selling of an American tragedy

For the right price, you can be a part of history. Even if you weren’t.

According to a story this past week in USA Today, some of last month’s Boston Marathon runners are offering their medals for sale on eBay. At last report, four medals had been sold, with a top price of $1,025.

On Craigslist, an ad for one of the medals offers: “Clean mint condition. Own a piece of history. $400. Very firm.”

Sellers are defending the sales.

“I trained hard, ran and received this medal. Selling to run again next year,” one listing declared. Another said proceeds would be donated to the American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts.

Not surprisingly, a lot of other people went online to express outrage. But not everyone.

“If I won a medal you bet I would sell it,” one post insisted. “I’d hold it for longer though so the price would go up. I don’t see the big fuss about selling something that YOU EARNED. Doesn’t matter what purpose you have behind it either.”

Medal sellers aren’t the only ones trying to cash in on the latest American tragedy, of course. Deadly debris still was lying on Boyleston Street when two companies raced to trademark the phrase “Boston Strong” so they could put it on the $19.95 T-shirts they planned to sell. Eight-year-old victim Martin Richard’s words, “No More Hurting People,” now are on a T-shirt advertised as “perfect for lounging around in your sweats and pajamas.”

For me, though, the big question is not whether people have a right to sell their morbid memorabilia. I wonder more about the people who buy it.

Are their lives so pathetically lacking in excitement that they feel a need to somehow identify themselves with an event that severed limbs and destroyed lives?

And what will they do with these medals? Put them in a frame and hang them over the fireplace to be admired by their friends? Or merely put them in a safe deposit box and hope “the price would go up?”

I’ll probably never understand the people who would buy things like that. But, if you happen to be one of them, I have a deal for you.

I have in my possession a menu from Windows on the World, a restaurant in the World Trade Center to which I took my daughter 20 years before 9/11. Clean mint condition. I’d consider parting with it for $1,000. Very firm.

That may sound a little steep, but you can’t put a price on being a part of history.

Even if you weren’t.

X