The First Draft: 9/11, eight years on
Washington awoke to a cool and rainy 9/11 today, so different from the brilliant sunshine that many recall from the day of the 2001 attacks at the Pentagon, the World Trade Center and in an open field in Pennsylvania.
To mark the anniversary, President Barack Obama, the first lady and White House staff observed a moment of silence on the South Lawn at 8:46 a.m., the time when the first hijacked plane hit the first tower in New York City. Next is a presidential wreath-laying and remarks at the Pentagon Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Obamas are slated to participate in a “service event” later in the day, part of a move to make the 9/11 anniversary a day of public service. Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a commemoration ceremony in lower Manhattan. Secretary of State speaks at the first Annual 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance in New York. The National Museum of the Marine Corps marks the anniversary with a new exhibit “dedicated to the historic day and the global war on terrorism.”
This year, 9/11 feels like an appropriate moment to pause, a break from the sturm and drang of politics and policy-making. Fights over healthcare reform, how to fix the economy and curb climate change can wait for at least a moment.
Somehow, it brings to mind the words of Carl Sandburg, writing about memory and healing in a poem about how battlefields recover. Sandburg wrote of the battles at Gettysburg and Waterloo, and how time and grass cover up the raw pain of these places. The sites of 9/11, grass-covered or not, could easily apply.
“Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?
I am the grass.
Let me work.”
See the whole poem here.
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Photo credits: REUTERS/Molly Riley (A rose is laid at the Pentagon memorial, December 9, 2008)
REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (Freedom Tower section of World Trade Center construction site, Sept 9, 2009)