Sunday, September 11, 2011

911 Ten Years Later

By Jenn Weinshenker
September 11, 2011

I got up and put my slippers on
What dogs that were on the bed
Jumped down to the floor
The rest made way to the wooden staircase

I let the animals out and said good morning
To my llamas and donkeys and dingbat cats
Fed all of the animals great and small
And then scooped out some coffee
Setup the percolator
Turned the flame on
And readied my old coffee pot on the stovetop

The sky was exceptionally clear
And strikingly blue

School buses had long since come and gone
And my daughter was in class

My son was upstairs
there were no college classes
Or work this early today
He was asleep

Asleep and unaware of what was coming
Like we all were
Before the unthinkable act of violence
Was committed in New York, D.C. and Philadelphia
That early morning in September

No, I don’t want to go there
It hurts too much to remember
What I can't forget

I rarely switch the TV on that early
But I did that morning
The eleventh of September

I watched as the news broke in and showed
The first plane hit the first tower

I froze
I couldn’t move
Then I called up to my son

“Come down here, quick, hurry!”
There was no time to explain
He came downstairs and we watched the
Second plane hit the second tower

In a way those direct hits
Shook through all of us that day

What is happening? What is going on?
Our kids were sent home right away
My daughter would be home soon
What did she know?
How could I explain this to her?
How would I calm
Our foreign exchange student from Brazil?
We called my other son
To talk about what happened
And we called the rest of our family and friends
We felt compelled to hear their voices
We were the lucky ones
The ones that could still get through
The ones that could still hear their voices
One more time

In the throws of such tragedy
We, all of us
Felt this intense love and compassion
For our distant relatives who were not so lucky

Another plane crashed in Washington D.C.

We heard how heroes tried to take control
Of another plane
From their hijackers
And they succeeded in preventing it from being used
As another missile of terror
We learned how this plane did not make it to its
Final destination
Instead it crashed into a field in Pennsylvania

In the days that followed
We started hearing the last phone conversations
And messages left on answering machines
We heard those last I love you calls
And our hearts broke too

All planes were ordered to land
It was eerily quiet
I never realized how much
The sound of planes flying overhead
And the streaking tails of white that marked
Where they had been
I had gotten used to

Now it was hushed outside
And there wasn’t a trace of a plane anywhere

We had a foreign exchange student living with us
I was explaining how far away we were from New York
to his family on the phone
But my heart was aching
I could no longer discern the distance between us
We all grieved together as a nation
That day and in many other days to come
As the numbers of those who died
And were missing grew

The tragedy of 911 and the heroic actions of so many
Became indelibly etched in all of our minds
The pain of it
The ache of it
I can’t explain
I don’t think I will ever be able to express it
Because I don’t think I can ever
Go back there
And yet,
Heavy eyelids and silence and an ache
Have remained even until now
Ten years later
And I must go back there
To that moment
To that ache

I steeped my herbal tea
And got some oatmeal ready
I let out my dog in the back yard
And let my cats in
And though I rarely put on the TV early,
I turned it on when I got up today

I knew this day was coming
I marked it on my calendar
Though I didn’t need too
And I woke up much the same way I did back then
It was another beautiful blue sky day
But today on TV
Survivors were telling their stories
And their family members and dear friends
Were reading the names of those who died

I’m feeling so much sorrow
That I can barely see through
The clouds that have covered my eyes

I had been watching our firemen
Build a 911 Memorial out front
Near the park where I walk my dog
For much of the summer
And I remembered the day
A piece of twisted iron
From one of the towers
Was set in a foundation
And a brass eternal flame statute
Was placed next to it
They laid a beautiful low fieldstone wall around it
Where water covered tiny black stones
There below the rusty contorted beam
This was the first time I’d seen it finished
It was moving, respectful and some how calming
The flag was at half-mast

The first time I ever saw a flag at half mast
Was when President John F. Kennedy
Was assassinated
It was another act of violence
That also wounded us as a nation
But we are a nation made up of many nations
We are a nation of independent people
With amazing resilience

I told my service dog Coco,
Girl, we have somewhere we need to be
I got on my dark pants and sky blue shirt
And put a handkerchief
With the print of an American flag on it
Around Coco’s collar
And off we went
To the Tri-State Village Fire Department

It was too far to walk all the way from home
So I drove about half the distance
And then we walked the rest of it
Some how I needed to walk
I needed to experience this moment
With everyone else
And in my own solitude once again

There will be a dedication in about two hours
A lot of people will be here
But since my brain injury
I can’t handle the noise and flurry of large crowds
So I will fittingly watch the memorials
Of those who didn’t live to see this day on TV
And I'll listen to their families
Share their memories with all of us
This day, ten years later

I think
There are a lot of people in this country
Who want to take care of the land
And who work very hard to try to preserve our
Natural resources
There are many in this country who are humanitarians
And who want to make the world a better place
It is amazing how many people in this country
Make it their life’s work to do good for others
There are those who play music and those who write
There are those who create artwork
Those who keep every thing going
And those who play sports

And then there are those who join together
As a band of brothers and sisters
Who value the majesty
Of this country
Who love all of its people
And who choose to protect it
And many of them have lost their lives
In the line of duty
For this very reason

And then there are those who hate
And while the reasons why may vary
The hatred always leads to more hatred
And then some times to senseless acts of violence

And I wonder if we will ever understand and appreciate
How amazing and precious life is

I listened to more stories of survivors
Who were pulled from the rubble
And those who made narrow escapes
Missing planes and running late
And like the many others
Who saw these horrors unfolding
I shared with them a moment of silence

I appreciated the way
These survivors were impassioned
To live good lives in the names of those
Who had died
And who had valiantly given up their lives
To save others

And then I thought…
Maybe I can go there
Yes, I can go there too
To listen to their inspirational stories
And to honor their loved ones
That will always be cherished
No matter how many years have passed

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