Sunday, September 9, 2012
As the weekend winds its way down my thoughts again, as they have often this weekend, return to 9/11. The 11th anniversary is this Tuesday. One of my friends mentioned in an e-mail that in 2001 September 11th was a Tuesday as well. I just checked the weather forecast for Tuesday-77, sunny and nice. Ask anyone who can remember and they will tell you about the weather that day and particularly the clear blue skies. I wrote in my last blog about my educator worlds colliding as I am both a full time middle school teacher and an adjunct faculty member of a regional branch of Kent State University. My college class meets this Tuesday. Because of circumstances beyond my control I will be late for my college class. I left my students with three questions to ponder and discuss before I arrive: 1)What are your memories of 9/11/2001? 2)If you were in school as a student that day, how did that school handle the news? and 3)How will you as an educator handle a traumatic situation? Something I heard last year about this time as we approached the 10th anniversary was that in 2001 even though we had the Internet, most people still relied first on their televisions for news. So many people will tell you they were glued to their television that day. Today it would be different, but in 2001, it was television news that captivated and held our attention for so many hours and really days. Last year I was in the midst of reading several books about 9/11. This past week I have been reading a non-fiction book-Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock and Roll written by Marc Dolan-a professor of film, history, and American studies at John Jay College and City College of New York. The style of the book is interesting. It appears Dolan has not interviewed, but instead has chosen to review, listen, and analyze all of his music from the very beginning until present day. Quite a task and quite challenging. His goal was to place his music and more importantly his lyrics in the context of American culture since the early 1970's. Springsteen has long been a hero of mine, both as a musician and a songwriter. This is at least the third book I have read about him. The part I have read in the last 24 hours includes 9/11. All of us have our 9/11 memories, but for New Yorkers it must be especially poignant. Springsteen was living as he does now, in New Jersey in 2001. He was used to gazing across the water at the New York skyline. He remembers as he left the beach that day a guy rolled down his car window and said, "We need you now, man." What exactly did that mean? That Friday there was a Concert for the Heroes that was broadcast live on all four major networks. I vividly remember watching that with my family. Springsteen kicked off the somber evening with a song "My City of Ruins." It was a signature song on the CD he would release in July of 2002. Interestingly, it was a song he had written about a year before 9/11, but the words seemed so appropriate on that evening. The title of that CD and the concert tour to follow (which I would attend at the then Gund Arena in Cleveland)was The Rising. The t shirt I bought that night is quite faded, but I still enjoy wearing it. After the Chardon shootings of 2/27 I could not stop listening to the single "The Rising." It is a song of hope-something we all needed in the days that followed the worst nightmare of our generation. Bruce wrote many 9/11 songs on The Rising including "Into the Fire", "You're Missing", and "Empty Sky." As this 11th anniversary approaches I feel like a new page is being turned. It is not quite like the 10th anniversary. The crowds will not be the same as it is a work day. The three memorials have been open for over a year. The coverage will be different, but it is important for this 9/11 and all to follow that we remember the heroes and hold the families close. I have written before about the 9/11 family members I have been honored to meet. One of them is Alison Crowther-the mother of Welles Crowther-The Man in the Red Bandana. Read his story if you have the chance in the next three days. Or better watch his video on the ESPN website. We did a fundraiser in his honor at our school last fall. After 2/27 I heard from so many people, but never did I expect to hear from Alison Crowther, but she reached out to me leaving a very eloquent message on my voice mail.