September 11, a day when a nation’s collective heart stopped beating, a day when heroism and terrorism collided in New York and Washington and a lush green field in Pennsylvania. A day that dawned with clear blue skies, a day that held promise for a time…
And then…the unthinkable…when four passenger jets were transformed from vessels of voyage into missiles of hate, and thousands upon thousands became accidental heroes who refused to go gently into that good night. They raged against the evil and darkness that had come to our shores, and as we watched helplessly, the skies turned into fogs of smoke and fire, and the earth into sacred ground. And it was then the passengers of Flight 93 fought back, not with guns but with grit and determination, and the world is a better place because of them, because of all of them – the firefighters, and police and first responders, and then the soldiers who took up the fight. American heroes all, every one.
And now, ten years on, I think John Magee’s poem provides a bit of peace for surely all 2,977 who died in the carnage that day, reached out through the smoke and fire and fear, and touched the face of God, and that image gives me peace.
I hope it will do the same for you.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor even eagle flew—
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.