Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A City Silenced

A mailbox in New York City covered with missing people fliers from the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Public domain/fair use claimed, from Pinterest, website link posted in the credits secion.

Greetings All:

"Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children."

President George W. Bush

Two days ago we acknowledged the fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  There have been many tributes to those lost and the end of our "normal."  

It was 15 years ago today that I experienced what it was like to see the "end of normal."  Please allow me to elaborate.

9/11 was a Tuesday.  For those of us who worked in New York City, no one went to work the following day.  It was day off no one wanted.  Then came the following day, Thursday.  

Back to work...back to The City...but far from back to normal.

A normal commute would be noise and bustle.  Not so this day.  The best way I can describe it is what was missing from that day.  It was the noise, the honking horns, the general bustle of a city of millions of moving feet.  

All that was missing that day.  I returned to a city silenced.

What was new were the fliers.  The fliers of the missing.  They adorned lamp posts, buildings, and mailboxes.  I recall staring at them, reading the names, absorbing the faces and knowing in my heart they would never be found.  

This past Sunday, Dawn and I went to The Figge Art Museum.  It's a terrific place and as someone who can barely draw a straight line (with a ruler) I am so impressed with the artists whose work adorns its walls.  There was one piece in particular that struck me.  It is entitled, The List by Georges Schreiber.  

Here is what The Figge Museum writes about this work on its website:  "The List presents a timeless reminder of the horrors of war. In it, mothers, sisters, sons, and brothers strain to see the names posted on a casualty list."

The List by Schreiber, from The Figge Art Museum website, fair use/sharing authorized, full link below in the sources.

This painting is so gripping in its silent emotion.  The subjects utter not a word, instead staring intently at that single piece of paper nailed to the tree, hoping, praying not to read a name.  For so long as that name was NOT THERE, hope lived that their loved one did as well.

Not so on 9/11.  We knew, we ALL knew that by that "first Thursday after" that anyone not heard from while the sun still stood that sad Tuesday was lost.  

And yet the posters still went up.  I'd have done the same thing.

War, whether when in Schreiber's time or ours, is tragic.  Tragic, stupid, wasteful, and yes, necessary.  When war ends, hopefully victory is the result.  

Yet even in victory, there is a cost.  It is a cost paid in blood and treasure and joy and sound.

Perhaps the interest that war charges to our collective soul is that most awful silence.  Sort of like that silence experienced that Thursday 15 years ago.  A silence that is a first cousin to the subjects is Schreiber's painting seven decades ago.  

Whether a village or a city, the silence of war drowns every other sound out, from our ears...and from our souls. 

As I often type on my Facebook posts:  To remember is to honor.  Let us all remember those who were lost that tragic day, the voices forever silenced.  I think the city's silence that somber Thursday was a homage, perhaps only subconsciously, to those lost.

I'll send you off from this blog post with Paul Simon performing his hauntingly iconic song "The Sound of Silence," on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  You can listen to it here.

Be well my friends,


Opening photo, full webpage citation:  http://tinyurl.com/jeygls8



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