Heroes Park, Arlington, TX

11 September 2008

Seven Years Later

I’ve been thinking a lot about how seven years seems like so long . . . and like it was only yesterday.

When I talked to Kyle this morning, he said I’d missed a call from him (I was unhooking the truck and trailer) just moments after he left the house.  Apparently, there was some sort of ceremony taking place at our neighbourhood’s new Heroes Park.  Kyle said there were police cars and sixty or so people; traffic being directed manually, etc.  He was hoping to tell me, so I could run down there . . . and I would have! 

As it was, immediately after unhitching my rig, I chose to remember 9-11 by doing some searching online regarding any ceremonies taking place in New York or Washington.  I learned that today was the day the new Memorial site at the Pentagon was dedicated.  I went to the television, but could find nothing, so I read everything I could find online.  Entering the new memorial, visitors pass under an archway marked with a stone carved: “September 11, 2001–9:37 a.m.,” the exact time of the Pentagon attack.  The stone itself bears the scars of that attack—it is a stone recovered from the smouldering, wrecked wall of the building. The architecture of the park is arranged in rows, symbolizing the years in which the victims were born.  The surrounding wall doesn’t just keep out the freeway noise—it’s built beginning at a height of three inches and rises to 71 inches—it symbolizes the youngest victim, a three-year-old, and the oldest.  The park consists of a bench, a pool of water and a tree, for each of the 184 victims of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon.  Each bench bears the name of someone who died there that day.  To read the names of those who died within the walls of the Pentagon, you must face the building.  To read the names of those who died on American Airlines flight #77, you must stand facing the western sky.

I found some footage of a lone bagpiper walking among the benches as he plays “Amazing Grace.”  And I found a couple of nice news reports about the new site.  I also learned that at 3:30 p.m., both Obama and McCain gathered with folks at Ground Zero in Manhattan to remember the lost, there.  I’m hoping to find some footage of that.  We, as Americans need to remember much, much more often, how we pulled together on that day, and think far, far, less of how different we think we are, one from another.  That the two candidates joined for this event, today, is heartwarming.  Kyle had said he hoped something like that would be done, and I doubted the likelihood.  I’m glad I was wrong.

As I drove home this afternoon, I took a quick, impromptu turn in at Heroes Park.  I did a U-turn, and parked my truck, immediately across from a no parking sign. (Isn’t that crazy?  Where are we supposed to park to visit this little place?)  I walked down the marked path, and read the engravings, such as: responsibility, sincerity, dedication, sacrifice.  I walked all the way down to the wall bearing the names of Arlington’s fallen in the line of duty.  Under each name, is either a Fire or Police Department badge symbol, and the words “Last Call” or “End of Watch” with a date.  A beautiful wreath seemed to be perhaps a remnant of this morning’s ceremony.  And I picked up a piece of trash and carried it back to my truck.  <sigh>

Tears for many reasons.