Friday, September 11, 2009

Cry Havoc! And Let Go the Dogs of War...

9/11/2001 (Revisited w/video added)

Lest we never forget...

I remember that morning like it was yesterday. I will always remember the intimate details of it; the sights, the sounds, the smells. It was the day that the world changed forever.

I was married at the time and had stepped down to our pond to try and catch a mess of fish for supper. I had several nice ones in a bucket when I heard her call to me that breakfast was almost ready. I pulled out for the house with my pole and bucket in hand, stopping to sit in a chair on the porch to remove my wet boots. The windows were open and the radio was on and I half-listened, half-ignored the announcer talking about a plane crash in New York. I remember thinking that it was only a matter of time before something like this was going to happen. Sooner or later some pilot was going to screw up and hit one of the massive buildings jutting up out of the ground across America...the numbers were just with it.

I went inside and turned on the television and they had a live feed of the events going on. It was just about then that the second plane hit. And my heart broke. God help us all. My eyes clouded with rage, pain, fear, sorrow and a thousand other things all at once as a tear ran down my cheek. In that instant, through all my years of training in the military, I instinctively knew that we were at war. My wife asked me what was wrong and I couldn't find my voice, or my stomach, to tell her what I already knew. I just stared at the screen in silence and disbelief.

As I tried unsuccessfully to choke down the meal she had prepared, I watched in horror as first one and then the other tower crashed to the ground. And I prayed out loud where I sat. I prayed for those in and around the towers, but more than that I prayed for my friends that I knew would soon be placed in harms way once again. Their faces and names raced through my mind; I bet he re-enlisted, he's not retired yet, either...

I got up from the table, walked out the door and pulled my wet boots back on. I picked up the bucket of fish by the steps and walked past the flag flying at the front gate towards the pond. I remember thinking as I turned those fish loose that there had been enough killing for one day. I turned the bucket upside-down, took a seat on it and thought about all that had just happened and was going to happen. It was probably one of the saddest, most helpless feeling times in my life.

I often find myself on the US Army website, reading the names of those who have died in southwest Asia. And yes, I recognize some of them by name and all of them by trade. They were my brothers and sisters and always will be. And I love them all. I would urge each and every one of you to go there for a visit and pay your respects. They are the last barrier between you and the next attack. They gave 'that last full measure of devotion' for you and me.

I think I might take my pole and a bucket down to the pond this morning and try to catch a mess for my friends. I know that they would like that, taking comfort in the fact that they are not forgotten. God love 'em.

1 comment:

David Wayne Hampton: said...

A very touching piece. I remember, too, thinking at first that it was a tragic accident. It took a while for it to sink in that we were under attack by an unseen enemy. It's tragedies like these that people remember exactly what they were doing when they first heard the news. My grandfather remembers what he was doing the first time he heard about Pearl Harbor, my mother remembers where she was when the news of JFK's assassination broke. I remember being out of school for snow the day the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up (I couldn't understand at first why all three television channels had the same picture on them), and I will never forget the moment I watched with my students in the classroom what was transpiring on 9/11. The questions they asked me, I couldn't answer. I didn't know what was going to happen next, or how to console them when I was terrified as well.

Thanks for your reply on the above poem. I am looking forward to one of my poems being published in the Appalachian Heritage. I believe it has the largest reader base of any regional literature magazine of the mountains, so it's neat to know I get to share my work with that many people.