Like so many Americans, I was deeply affected by the September 11 attacks, and it was natural for me to respond in poetry. My first poem inspired by events set in motion that day was a direct response to President George Bush’s address of September 20. The poem below, “11 September 2001,” was completed three days later and was edited slightly in 2006.
President Bush announced in his speech that we were sending troops to Afghanistan. He wasn’t quite as clear as I might have liked that the attack on the United States was an attack on civilization itself, but the speech was nevertheless the best he ever made.
I changed the final couplet of this poem a couple of days ago, not to change the meaning—though I suppose it does that—but because the former ending always seems forced and not a little odd. You can find the original ending and more information about the poem on my Web site.
11 September 2001
by Lionel E. Deimel
September 23, 2001
|Into the wilderness we must go
To find and vanquish the evil foe.
Our forces are fearsome, our fortitude strong
As we face our duty to right a great wrong.
Our passion aflame to our homeland defend,
We know the beginning, yet fear for the end.
Embarking on mission we did not invite,
Though loving the peace, we cannot but fight.
The whole world is watching and with us, we pray,
Though allied or not, we must carry the day.
Our interests, with others, may not seem aligned,
But mostly, we do what we do for mankind.