There are very few moments that etch into our memory. Given the number of breaths we take each day, we would be hard pressed to account for each accompanying activity. Then there are those events that take our breath away. And those are seared like soulful statues in our hearts.
I am old enough to have several such memories. The assassinations of John and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., John Glenn’s first orbit into space, Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon, Oklahoma City, Columbine, Virginia Tech to name a few.
But, like many of you, nothing has ever impacted me like September 11, 2001.
And I, like so many others, used words to help me cope:
The Day We Became Americans – again
She had always been here, our America.
And, though we loved her, we had been treating her in much the same way as we treat others that we love.
We held her in our hearts, but we took her for granted.
Sang to her only at ball games & on the 4th of July.
Saluted her when the parades passed us by.
Asked God to bless her at a rally or celebration.
Spoke about her only in terms of “the nation”.
Stood up to defend her only when freedom was tried.
Paused but for a moment when a soldier died.
But on September 11, 2001, that image changed forever.
Stood together, arm in arm, in shock and in shame.
Hugged strangers, though we didn’t know their name.
Flooded New York and D.C. to lend a hand.
Praised the champions of police, fire, and medicine.
Searched for loved ones in the dust and the rubble.
Gave what anyone needed – it wasn’t too much trouble.
Reached deep into our pocket and our soul.
Served our neighbor – it was our only goal.
Rolled up our sleeves to donate our blood.
Prayed to Allah, Jesus, Jehovah and God.
Cried tears of thanksgiving, loss, and fear.
Clung to the values and freedoms we hold dear.
Flocked to stores in search of old glory.
Listened to survivors tell us their story.
Vowed to fight the perpetrators of this crime.
Pledged to stand together through time.
Sang The Battle Hymn of the Republic and God Bless America.
Called parents, spouses, and children to say: “I love ya!”
Some of my other favorite 9-11 tributes:
“Hole in the World” is a song by the Eagles, written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning” expressed his thoughts and emotions. “I didn’t want to write a patriotic song”, Jackson said. “And I didn’t want it to be vengeful, either. But I didn’t want to forget about how I felt and how I knew other people felt that day.”
Bruce Springsteen sang “My City of Ruins” to open the September 21, 2001 America: A Tribute to Heroes, introducing the number as “prayer for our fallen brothers and sisters.”
“I Was Here”, sung by Beyoncé Knowles, was motivated by the 9-11 attacks and written by Diane Warren. It is about wanting to leave an impact on the world before her life comes to an end.
Neil Young’s “Let’s Roll“, was his response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Billy Joel performed “New York State of Mind” at the NYC 9-11 Tribute concert.
Taylor Swift’s “Didn’t They” describes the feeling that a lot of people had when they heard the news.
Paul Simon performed his hit “The Sounds of Silence” at a 9-11 memorial in Central Park.
Budweiser’s famous 9-11 commercial tribute aired only one time but has been playing on You Tube for years.
And Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” has become a 9-11 anthem.
What were some of the words, music, art you found comforting?