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911: Prayer from the Departed Legions – A Poem

Updated on May 19, 2014
Memorial to the Departed – a PhotoShop collage by the author
Memorial to the Departed – a PhotoShop collage by the author

This poem was inspired by the resilient and charitable behavior of the survivors, bereft, and neighbors of the September 11th terrorist attacks

On September 11, 2001, a terrorist attack against America – starting at the World Trade Center Twin Towers – changed our lives forever. At the certain dismay of the terrorists, the changes were for the better, especially in the spiritual sense. It is said that every person will remember what he/she was doing when they first heard of the attack.

I was in Bountiful, Utah, having traveled there from Salt Lake City, to begin my day’s work at Horizon Publishers. But I had first stopped at a gas refill station. After that stop, I got in my car and heard on the radio the calm report of Tom Barbary saying, “We have a wire here that says a small aircraft seems to have slammed into one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.”

Not long after, he, or his side-kick, reported that the second building was on fire. The two of them speculated that a piece of wing or engine must have broken free on the first impact, and hit the second building.

Next, Tom reported that it was a second airplane that hit the second tower. As I pulled into the parking lot of Horizon Publishers, I speculated that a mom-and-pop old couple were flying together, got disoriented, and had a unique accident. It wasn’t until I heard that these were jumbo passenger jets that I knew something was amiss in this world, and shock began to take over. The next few hours saw the plant manager grant all of us employees access to a television, as we watched the unthinkable tragedies and revelations unfold before us.

After everything was over, the next thing I knew, there was a surge of volunteers – not only dedicated to finding the survivors, but – for blood and commodities donations. Artists wrote songs and people came together. Patriotism took on new dimensions. New Yorkers, who before I thought calloused and selfish, became heroes in character, resilience and charity.

When my own shock subsided, the charitable and unifying acts that abounded in the world inspired this poem, “Prayer from the Departed Legions.” I tried to avoid giving it a Christian slant, so it could appeal to all people. The mention of “injustice to innocence” can apply to any spiritual icon in our past, as there have been many. I therefore hope that people of all faiths or spiritual genre can enjoy this prose poem:

Shift, veil, to let this message pass—
From travelers to unexpected shores—
On waves of prayers to open hearts,
To comfort, and write in Wisdom’s book.
Open, pages, for bereft who wonder why.
Give, O font of ink that’s seen by tearful eye.
Sing now, voiceless spirit, to souls now tuned;
Their questions have opened their minds,
And their crying has primed the heart.

Tell them, those on their knees,
Left behind but giving after loss:
Don’t cry for us, for we have found our rest.
Turn grief to prayer that darkness flee.
No dream can tell the glories here;
Feeble, the visions from gifted prophets!
Closest, is the gaze from a child’s face,
Or helping hand beyond its means.
Oh, grand! the scope of what we partake,
But exquisite beauties and wonders here
Are most nearly matched by miracles there
In acts of kindness, sharing and prayer!

In a distant era, injustice killed Innocence.
But for what miraculous end was it permitted?
How, more than sacrifice, to save humanity?
What bitter but lonely cup, the greatest work!
Now, tragic our departure, but stirring greatness,
Tapping from deep inside, the wondrous treasures.
Children, who thought of self before
Are now considerate, and charity grows.
A word, donation, before obscure
Has now become a household word.

Oh! straighter, then, the compass points
That our reunion be more sure.
Clearer is the distant beacon,
Stronger the ship to resist the storm!
For surely, soon, their powers increase,
And waves will toss and demons threaten.
But tragic sorrow has strengthened resolve,
And loss has unified the goal for all.


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