I’m writing this as the names are being read at the World Trade Center site, in some cases by children who were not yet born when their fathers died. We hear surviving spouses, sisters, brothers, nephews, nieces and friends, and most inspiring, the children who are second and third generation responders, like the uniformed female police officer who after reading names, honored her firefighter father by stating, “Dad, we know you’ve got our backs.”
My plans for adding to this blog were derailed the other day when the New York Times posted excerpts from the 9/11 audiotapes that contained communications between air traffic controllers, Flight 11, NORAD and others who had to deal with the unimaginable on that day. Their shock, frustration and sorrow is evident, but their professionalism is still there, despite the persistent lack of accurate information and the issuance of contradicting orders. You don’t want to listen, but you have to–as difficult as it is to hear Flight Attendant Betty Ong report the hijacking of Flight 11 and the stabbing of at least two of her fellow crew members, you are compelled to hear this through.
So much has been written about 9/11 and so much has been said, but to me the most memorable remarks were those published by the New York Times in a collection of sermon excerpts several days after the attacks. The words that never fail to move me are those of Bonnie Myotai Treace, then Sensei of the Fire Lotus Temple, Zen Mountain Monastery:
Thousands of blossoms, red, brown, white, yellow, black scattered on
ground made tender by their falling. This human body, more fragile
than the dew drops on the countless tips of morning grass.
My wailing voice is the bright September wind and
in the dark night, silence speaks:
“‘I will die only when love dies and you will not let love die.”