Monday, September 14, 2020

When They Lowered the Flag: A 9/11 Tribute

I wrote this poem (below) the year after the events of September 11, 2001, and many years before I married and changed my last name. I ran across this poem again today, and though the 2020 anniversary of September 11 has passed, I wanted to share this tribute because I don't think I had the courage to share it before.

The absence of punctuation is intentional, symbolizing how the events of September 11 morphed from moment to moment. America was forever changed that day. Yet, 19 years later, I don't know of anyone who doesn't recall where they were and what they were doing on that day, at that time.

It is a moment forever etched in our minds. We will never forget the sacrifice that so many souls - first-responders, civilians, individuals trying to help - paid that fateful day. We will never forget those who lost their lives in the subsequent years, the first-responders who worked tirelessly in the aftermath of September 11, who eventually succumbed to the injuries they suffered, unaware of the toll their work would take on them physically. We will never forget those who lost loved ones. We will never forget the survivors who live each day with first-hand memories.

To ALL first responders in EVERY capacity, including but not limited to, the heroes on the front lines of the fight against the pandemic, those of you who courageously fight the millions of acres of fires currently burning in the West coast of the United States (and all fires), those of you who risk everything to help protect life and property and those of you pull people from hurricane- and tornado-stricken cities, and all others who have made it your mission to selflessly care for others, I thank you! I pray for you regularly, for your safety, for your families, and for your loved ones. You are appreciated!

A single breath
When death
Distinguished not
Between hero and civilian
Child or parent
Neither race nor creed
Deafening roar, destruction
Disrupting autumn’s air
Intrusively ominous
Catastrophically morose
Changing landscape to skyscape
Bodies torn
Broken dreams
Shattered lives
Surreal illusions
Mankind’s demise
Faces painted
As volcanic spit
Falling, falling, covering, smothering
Blistering, suffocating
Escaping reality
Deadly mix
Bewitched insanity
Humanity’s line

Then they lowered
The flag
Heads bowed
Eyes closed
A nation mourned
Cowardly deed
Evil seed
Of world corruption
Of innocence
Of innocents

(Melanie E. Beasley © 2002)