Reflecting on Terror
Audrey Yeager Our Flag is Still There
By AUDREY YEAGER
THE TOOLS of a writers trade are so limited we cannot convey even the most basic feelings in an adequate manner. How stirring, yet simple, is the innocent golden gleam in the eyes of a deer how impossible to explain. Yet, we try. We search through the dictionary corners of our mind, flipping through the many pages only to be disappointed once again. The vital words--whatever dots and dashes they may be--are not to be found.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Intellectually, I suppose Ive always known that to be true, but as a writer, Im constantly competing with the canvas and the oils. If I could just get CLOSE once.
September 11, 2001 showed me that cant be done, for, A Picture is, indeed, Worth a Thousand Words.
Every one of us has that image scorched into our brains; a surreal, Star Wars kind of picture. A jet airliner cruising almost nonchalantly into the World Trade Center, and Hell seemed to explode over New York City as the impact began its monstrous intention; innocent people used to murder innocent people.
Our world altered radically that day, and as much as I would like to think it will somehow be put back together the same as it was before, I cant.
However, as the days went by, I learned the second biggest lesson of my life, and it radiated comfort and encouragement to me.
I had been guilty of believing the biggest percent of the younger generation was spoiled beyond hope of any meaningful contribution to society. Also, I was sure they wouldnt be the least bit interested in defending their country if the need arose. I prayed there would be no war, believing we would be doomed for lack of fighting men.
I even wrote a corny poem about my feelings:
Parades of the Past
The Fourth-of-July still comes to town,
On soft-soled shoes, it seems.
Parades of the past are lost in time,
Or, passing by in childhood dreams.
The majorette has slowed her steps,
And grown old with her tasseled boots,
There is not so much as a drum beat,
To remind us of our roots.
Where are the teeming picnics
In a park or at the lake,
Complete with new-wood bandstands,
And a prize for Mamas cake?
Are gunnysack races still being run,
On the birthday of our nation
As the brave and the free compete
In patriotic elation?
Who has the wicker baskets
Bulging with chicken and pie?
Where are the red-checkered tablecloths,
And bathing suits on a branch to dry?
We sang, God Bless America
Under the Red, White and Blue.
I wonder where those proud souls went.
No one seems to know, do you?
Now, I can answer my own question. They havent gone anywhere. Their faces have changed, their hairstyles and clothing have changed. No, they dont look much like the young men of my youth. But by the middle of September they were rushing to military enlistment centers across the country. Their hearts are willing. Their hearts are American.
WE are shown pictures of others on television every day. No public appearances, they gave up that option when they put on the uniforms of firemen and policemen or, simply volunteered to be a part of the rescue teams. Thanks to cell phones, still others shared love with those left behind and said goodbye with one last, heroic deed; then plummeted to their deaths in a Pennsylvania field.
Love was all around us that day. It flooded multi-stories of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It ran free and full through the twisting metal of jets, through crashing ceilings and nightmare stairwells, as some with phones faced eternity and spoke of love.
It is really all about love, isnt it?
What was planted with hate and mushroomed hotly into evil has been supplanted with love. It is truly a triumph.
Yes, we have lost forever the luxury of complacency, yet we have gained an intimate knowledge of our fellow countrymen and not found them wanting.
Through the bombs bursting in air, our flag IS still there.
© 2001 by Audrey Yeager. The illustration is © 2001 by Jim Hummel.
You can comment on this column or contact Audrey Yeager with an email to: email@example.com
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