“America is a tune. It must be sung together.” – Gerard Stanley Lee
Since the inception of this usually comedic blog (such is the objective, anyway) in 2010, I’ve always considered it of utmost importance that at least once a year it take a serious, somber tone in commemoration of the sad and tragic events of September 11th, now 14 years ago.
We remember with reverence the innocent lives that were lost, and honor with admiration the valiant responders who bravely, steadfastly and at no small individual risk followed a personal call of duty to country, to justice and to humanity. These were Sly Stone’s “everyday people,” many of whom traveled to New York from locales all around our great country, proving ordinary people can oftentimes be the most extraordinary. Sorrowfully, far too substantial a number of them have suffered for their courageous actions, overtaken by myriad maladies facilitated by the unsafe and unhealthy conditions at the rescue site. I had the opportunity to meet a few of these true Americans and could but humbly express my appreciation for the much needed spirit and assistance that they brought to my shaken, shocked, heartbroken, mourning, yet determined and resolute city.
Should you have ever come upon this blog before, by happenstance or, hopefully, by intent, it very likely didn’t require much deep reading or circumspection to determine the entrenched New York City origins of the author. It is here where I was born and bred, and where I fully expect to take my final breaths (perhaps with the aromas of Sunday’s macaroni gravy and gravy meat wafting into my nostrils) and I have stated incessantly (possibly to the point of annoyance) since 9/11, that there is no human being on this earth that I hold more affection, loyalty and veneration for than the New Yorker. At the worst point in our history, this vastly diverse population became one - in sorrow, in support, in understated understanding – a city of 8 million, turned close-knit neighborhood.
After this passage of time, and the yearly recollections, I wonder what’s left to articulate. A sincere wish is that September 11th never be designated a national holiday, for inevitably what will shortly follow is the white sale, mattress extravaganza and late summer backyard barbeque.
We all thought, and we were all told, that our country was forever changed on that day. For many families, those with friends and relatives victimized by the heinous attacks, that was indeed the case. However, by clear and unpleasant evidence of the manner in which this early period of the 2016 presidential campaign is manifesting itself – the ugliness, the bitterness, the lies, the backbiting, the partisanship, the institutionalized hatred – questions of doubt arise, has anything truly lastingly changed in present day America? Have we learned any permanent lessons from this unspeakable experience as a country and its people?
For a brief, dark, desperate moment we were one nation, indivisible. Now, we are a collection of belligerent, bickering combatants, with a growing animosity and revulsion towards each other, choosing to concentrate on that which makes us dissimilar rather than those commonalities which unite us.
This blog will forever reflect on September 11th in tribute, solemnly remembering the thousands who perished – on a field in Pennsylvania, at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and in a pair of skyscrapers just a few miles south of my home; those heroes who came to the aid of a despairing and grieving city, my city, the greatest city in the world, with an unending and unyielding appreciation, and without classification by sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious affiliation or political beliefs; and a country that momentarily realized the strength and beauty inherent in unity and accord. We can only urgently and sincerely hope that it won’t require some such similarly violent and vile occurrence for us once again to be Americans.
“We come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon.
We come in the age’s most uncertain hour
And sing an American tune” – Paul Simon