I can’t believe tomorrow is September 11th.
Today, I made a donation to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, in an amount that entitles me to a cobblestone. One small brick in the building of a memorial to one of the worst tragedies in American history. In the 8 years since this happened, a lot has been said and done to distract Americans from our outrage, our hurt, our grief and our fear. Today, let us be reminded of the actions of those on Flight 93, who said “Let’s roll.” Today, let us be reminded of not only those who died, but also what they lived for. This poem touches me every year and I hope it touches you too.
Two thousand one, nine eleven (2001-911)
by Paul Spreadbury
Two thousand one, nine eleven,
three thousand plus arrive in heaven.
As they pass through the gate,
thousands more appear in wait
A bearded man with stovepipe hat
steps forward saying, “lets sit, lets chat”
They settle down in seats of clouds,
a man named Martin shouts out proud
“I have a dream!” and once he did
the newcomer said, “your dream still lives.”
Groups of soldiers in blue and gray
others in khaki, and green then say
“we’re from Bull Run, Yorktown, the Maine”
the newcomer said, “you died not in vain.”
From a man on sticks one could hear
“the only thing we have to fear.”
The newcomer said, “we know the rest,
trust us sir, we’ve passed that test.”
“Courage doesn’t hide in caves
you can’t bury freedom in a grave,”
The newcomers had heard this voice before
a distinct Yankee’s twang from Hyannisport shores.
A silence fell within the mist,
somehow the newcomer knew that this
meant time had come for her to say
what was in the hearts of the five thousand plus that day
“Back on earth, we wrote reports,
watched our children play in sports,
worked our gardens, sang our songs,
went to church and clipped coupons,
we smiled, we laughed, we cried, we fought
unlike you, great we’re not”
The tall man in the stovepipe hat
stood and said, “don’t talk like that!
Look at your country, look and see
you died for freedom, just like me”
Then, before them all appeared a scene
of rubbled streets and twisted beams
death, destruction, smoke and dust
and people working just ’cause they must
Hauling ash, lifting stones,
knee deep in hell, but not alone
“Look! Blackman, whiteman, brownman, yellowman
side by side helping their fellow man!”
So said martin, as he watched the scene
“even from nightmares, can be born a dream.”
Down below three firemen raised
the colors high into ashen haze.
The soldiers above had seen it before
on Iwo Jima back in ’45.
The man on sticks studied everything closely,
then shared his perceptions on what he saw mostly
“I see pain, I see tears,
I see sorrow — but I don’t see fear.”
“You left behind husbands and wives
daughters and sons, and so many lives
are suffering now because of this wrong
but look very closely. You’re not really gone.
All of those people, even those who’ve never met you,
all of their lives, they’ll never forget you.
Don’t you see what has happened?
Don’t you see what you’ve done?
You’ve brought them together, together as one.
With that the man in the stovepipe hat said
“take my hand,” and from there he led
three thousand plus heroes, newcomers to heaven
on this day, two thousand one, nine eleven
* * *** * *
Former President George W. Bush gave an emotional and stirring speech in the week after this terrible attack, the most memorable quote being “We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.” Whether it be militarily or emotionally, we must never forget what happened on September 11, 2001. We must never tire of it, we must never falter in finding meaning out of the destruction, and we must never fail in our compassion for the survivors.
You may also be interested in learning a little about the Patriot Guard Riders, whose motto is “Standing for those who stood for us.” These riders will attend military funerals in order to preserve a respectful means for families to mourn American heroes killed in the line of duty.