September 11, 2021

Looking Back 20 Years

Like most Americans, I had strong reactions to the events of September 11, 2001, and its aftermath. Unlike most Americans, I wrote a lot about those reactions on my Web site, Lionel Deimel’s Farrago, and, later, on this blog. Ten years ago, I made a series of 11 blog posts calling attention to what I had written in the previous decade. (The first post was published 9/11/2011 and was titled “Looking Back to 9/11. Part 1.” The series continued for the next 10 days.)

For the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I offer a sort of annotated list of my writings related to that dreadful day.

  • Falling from the Sky (9/27/2001): This is my favorite poem about 9/11. It imagines what it must have been like to be in one of the World Trade Center towers on that terrible day. The poem is without rhyme and includes these thought-provoking lines: “Was immolation by jet fuel worse than the fire felt by Joan of Arc?/Those who jumped must certainly have thought so.”
  • 9/11 Memorial (6/30/2003): Although this poem was written long after 9/11. its setting is a church service held on the evening of 9/11. A candle on the altar reminded me of a burning tower. That night, we sang the hymn “All my hope on God id founded,” which contains the words “though with care and toil we build them, tower and temple fall to dust.” (Episcopalians have a hymnal sufficient for all occasions.)
  • What’s in a Name (9/16/2001): A meditation on the events of five days earlier. We had not yet settled on “9/11” as the name for what happened.
  • 11 September 2001 (9/23/2001): This poem is about how the country needed to react to 9/11. It was inspired by President Bush’s speech of 9/20/2001. It includes these lines: “Our passion aflame to our homeland defend,/We know the beginning, yet fear for the end.” That fear was well-founded.
  • Airplanes II (11/5/2001): This poem expresses relief over the resumption of commercial airline flights.
  • 2001 (begun 12/31/2001): This poem begins with the understated line “Two thousand one was not a good year.” The poem deals with events of 2001, including those of 9/11. My favorite lines are: “The heavenly bliss of American dreams/Was invaded by terrorist hell.”
  • Homeland Security (6/11/2002): The terrorism of 9/11 led to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. I wasn’t convinced that this collection of government functions was needed, but I was sure that it had been given the wrong name.
  • Thanks, But No Thanks (3/18/2003): President Bush took his eyes off Afghanistan and focused on Iraq. I was justifiably skeptical.
  • Ground Zero Memorial (12/15/2003): When I wrote this essay, the nature of the memorial at the World Trade Center site had not yet been determined. I suggested what I thought should at least be a part of that memorial.
  • Lower Manhattan (9/15/2004): Simply a recognization that, since 9/11, “Lower Manhattan” has a double meaning.
  • From Yellow to Orange (7/7/2005): Thoughts concerning the Homeland Security Advisory System that was developed in response to 9/11.
  • United States–Iraq War Ends (12/15/2011): A formal end was declared to the Iraq War, which had strangely been linked to 9/11 by President Bush. What was the point?
  • A Memorial Day Prayer (5/29/2017): As the war in Afghanistan dragged on, it occurred to me that not all war dead died for good reason.
  • Who Lost Afghanistan (8/16/2021): As the war inspired by 9/11 is coming to an end, the recriminations can begin.
  • Get Me to the Plane on Time (8/22/2021): I end this series in rhyming satire: alternative words to “Get me to the church on time” as Americans and Afghans struggle to get to the airport to get out of Afghanistan now controlled by the Taliban. Afghanistan has come full circle.

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