Sunday, September 11, 2011


I put the flag out today, as always. The Stars and Stripes defiant under a dull, gray sky, even as the light now dims.

The grief doesn’t abate. The anger burns on.

The same evening ten years ago: The squeak of playground swings; my daughters and their friend oblivious to the smoking inferno just beyond the horizon. The sky crystal clear and utterly silent. I watch C. on the swing and know that her life is about to break in two, even as her mother searches the emergency rooms and morgues.

Her mother retrieves her from our place later, and as they walk into the night I hear C. ask, “Is Daddy home?”

I will not forget.

Every time the bus leaves the Lincoln Tunnel and winds up the helix, I look back at the missing towers and think of her father. The grief and the anger flare.

A few months ago I looked back and smiled before I knew what I was thinking. And then I thanked the Navy Seals.

Kenneth Anderson, more composed than I, offers a fine thought at the close of day:
May the victims and their families and loved ones find peace. To those who went to war and continue at war, military and civilian alike, responding to that aggression — thank you for your service. To those who have been lost in that service, again military and civilian alike, ave atque vale.


Nathan Branch said...

Powerfully written and remembered, Avery .

I was living in Seattle at the time, and the impact of the attack was almost unendurable even from that distance. I can't imagine what it must have been like for the people who were close by, and especially for those who lost people they loved.

10 years feels like such a long time ago, and yet also like nothing at all.

Avery Gilbert said...

Nathan Branch:

It was a long time ago, but it profoundly changed my view of the world.

An entire generation of kids has grown up since then, and today they are most talented and effective members of our military. My respect for them knows no bounds.

Our political leadership, however, has been a huge disappointment. Even now they fail to give voice to the ideals of human dignity and liberty, and dabble in moral equivalence about suicide bombers and head choppers.