Lisa Frost was always No. 1. She was the firstborn in her family. She was the first person to start a community service program at the School of Hospitality at Boston University, from which she graduated in May 2001 and was the valedictorian. She will also be the first completed video profile on producer-director Mark Rothman's interactive database, "Out of Many ... One: Biographies of the Victims of Sept. 11."
Three months shy of her 23rd birthday, Frost perished on United Airlines Flight 175 -- the second jetliner to strike the World Trade Center. But it is the life of the late Rancho Santa Margarita resident, born in Los Angeles, that Rothman celebrates in what he calls "a video memorial to the victims." It's a database featuring 15-minute remembrances of Sept. 11 victims, to be computer cross-referenced by name, school, geography, even favorite foods.
Last week, Frost's parents, Tom and Melanie Frost, previewed the database at and saw the video of their daughter. They said they were moved by the memorial project.
Rothman, a 39-year-old video producer and documentarian, who lives in the Pico-Robertson area, was inspired by the The New York Times "Portraits of Grief" series on Sept. 11 victims.
"It was an idea that would not let me go," said Rothman, who has also recorded testimonies for the Shoah Foundation.
It seemed only fitting that Rothman debuted the database for the Frosts the Simon Wiesenthal Center's library, because it resembles the type of interactive video project profiling Holocaust victims at the center's Museum of Tolerance.
"It's become a very American -- certainly Jewish -- tradition to try and put a face on tragedy, as opposed to numbers or statistics," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center's associate dean.
Cooper added that he would welcome the completed "Out of Many" memorial at the center, although Rothman hasn't decided how he will display the final work.
With over 100 relatives of victims consenting to contribute to his memorial project, Rothman continues to record and edit more profiles, and hopes to record the stories of all the approximately 3,000 victims.
Lisa Frost is the first completed biography. Even with some photos missing, the video presentation packs an emotional wallop, as the details of her life unfold: her drive to help others, her scholastic excellence, her year abroad in Australia. It is recounted through photographs and videotaped interviews with relatives and friends.
"There are so many restless souls whipping around. They're here. They're making a presence, " Tom Frost told Cooper and Museum of Tolerance Director Liebe Geft on his Sept. 27 Wiesenthal library visit.
Upbeat and sanguine, Frost wore a customized button bearing a photo of his late daughter -- their "Christmas baby," as Melanie Frost dubbed her -- along with the dates of her birth and death and a simple slogan: "In loving memory of Lisa Frost." The Frosts have handed out these buttons, illuminated by Lisa's smile, wherever they go.
Keeping Lisa's spirit alive by sharing her story with the public has been a therapeutic crusade for the Frosts. With buttons of Lisa pinned to their shirts, they carry on, flying all over the country as the custodians of her spirit.
The Frosts frequently make appearances on network and cable television, appearing at events ranging from Red Cross and March of Dimes benefits, to, earlier this week, an appearance before 250 students, ages 12 to 18 years old, at Tarbut V'Torah, a Jewish day school in Irvine.
"It's been busy," Tom Frost said. "But I'm accustomed to it now." However, the weeks leading up to the first anniversary of Sept. 11 proved difficult.
"It was very overwhelming," Melanie Frost told The Journal. "More so now a year later. The longer she's gone, the more I miss her."
The Frosts have been appreciative of the outpouring of love and kindness. "Wherever we go, we're treated like royalty," Tom Frost said.
The couple hope their touring will put a face on the tragedy, and help less sympathetic people understand the implications of Sept. 11.
"I don't think we should necessarily go to war," Melanie Frost said. "But I hope that other countries align with us and understand that this could happen anywhere.""My daughter used to have a saying," Tom Frost said, with a smile and a twinkle in his eye. "'Don't worry about today, because it's already tomorrow in Australia.'"
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