Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Words to Die For

By Mark W. Danielson

President John F. Kennedy, who achieved immortality when he was assassinated in Dallas, is best remembered for his phrase, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." John Lennon, assassinated in New York City, is best known for his song, Imagine. Princess Diana will be forever known as an ambassador of love and grace. Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson were both kings of song. All of these celebrities died before their time, but live on through their contributions, artifacts, videos, photographs, songs, and writings. Their memorabilia continues to increase in value because there can be no more. Even in death, Lennon, Elvis, and Jackson continue to generate substantial incomes for their estates.


In the process of mourning celebrity deaths, shrines appear with tributes and final words. In Dallas, a museum chronicles Kennedy's last moments. In Memphis, Graceland hosts an endless stream of fans wishing to say good bye to their King of Rock and Roll. In Paris, tributes to Diana appear at her crash site, which ironically occurred under a replica eternal flame from the Statue of Liberty. New York City has a Lennon tribute to his Imagine vision. In Germany, Michael Jackson has a memorial wall. There is always room for fitting monuments.
Like Elvis and Lennon, Michael Jackson touched the lives of millions through his songs. No doubt, his final This Is It! show would have been spectacular, had he and his cast had the chance to perform it. Fans were fortunate its taped rehearsals were turned into a Big Screen movie and later released on DVD and CD. Jackson was spot-on throughout every act.

Jackson's tribute wall is visible from Cologne’s “bridge of love” and the Rhine. As with tributes to Kennedy, Elvis, Lennon, and Diana, candles, photos, and personal notes to Michael transformed this concrete wall into a shrine. Such warm displays of humanity and personal loss are always touching, regardless of their location.

As an author, I see these celebrity memorials as proof that words from the heart stir the strongest emotions. They also remind me that anything said well is worth repeating. Why else would greeting cards, songs, and romance novels have such longevity? In this regard, every author should strive to create meaningful works. Book stores are full of "booky wookies" without substance. Considering how these celebrities have been remembered, perhaps it's best to write as if our words will one day speak from the grave.

3 comments:

Jean Henry Mead said...

Beautifully said, Mark, and very true.

Mark W. Danielson said...

Thanks, Jean. If any of us are remembered for any particular work, we've done well.

Beth Terrell said...

You're right, Mark. May we each live our lives and writer our words in a way that will touch others.