Thursday, September 11, 2008

That Infamous Day

9/11. It has been seven years but it seems like yesterday. We all remember where we were at that moment. The only comparable moment in my life is where I was when President Kennedy was assassinated.

On Sept. 11, 2001 we were on our boat in Norwalk, Ct., a clear somewhat breezy day with a deep blue sky. We had the TV on and, in complete disbelief, the tragedy unfolded before us all.

Although some fifty miles away, we could see the smoke drifting south from the Twin Towers. To this day I still feel that sense of incredulity. Did this really happen here? My son, Jonathan, had been interviewed only a couple of weeks before by Cantor Fitzgerald, on the 102nd floor of One WTC. They lost 685 employees on that fateful day. Jonathan had taken another job. Is it merely coincidence and accident that governs life’s outcomes? Or Shakespeare’s more cynical line from King Lear: “As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport.”

My older son is the poet of our family and this is what he wrote on that very day. One line in particular resonates: “If Hell opened up, and swallowed my life, it could not compete with what witnessed, I.” May we never forget:

By Chris Hagelstein

Terrorist troops and bodies strewn
in Twin Tower screams, destruction loomed.
News stations on a journalistic mission
under our Flag's lost transmission:
America's Death.

Judgement of Religious Decree
driving Boeing bombs with air fuel
circulating vultures from above the sea,
smashing their prey
on this plain sun-filled day.

Television digital debris rained on video,
Looping the same sequence of carnage.
The surgery of media controlled the flow
but the State of Blood remained unknown.

Prayers beneath each citizen’s eyes
were blessed wells now, for those who died.
No ceremony or speech could render a conclusion:
Those wired images played seemed like an illusion.

An Eye of some god was seeing us All
for each one's Blindness, was another’s Call,
and in the skies above Manhattan, masked in smoke
exhumed old gods of hatred and hope.

If Hell opened up, and swallowed my life,
It could not compete with what witnessed, I:
Buildings falling and heroes crushed:
As day burned to night
and life --- to dust.

Still, yet, in my hearts dismay,
Born here, I stand, no less bleeding
than those who survived this day:
For America is my body and my sea
executed on the stage of history.