Wednesday, 31 August 2011, I was looking through the CD’s to put something on while working around the kitchen area. I pulled out John Rutter’s “Requiem” for no conscious reason. For those of you who are not into classical sacred music, John Rutter is a composer-conductor who is promoting a return toward 19th century compositional style in which you can listen to and enjoy the music and understand the lyrics. Twentieth century beat-you-over-the-head and grind-up-your-ears style compositions have done little to bring us closer to the sacred or contemplation. What I was really after, though, was to turn off the week long 9-11 10th anniversary commentaries on the radio.
We knew that the 10th anniversary of 9-11 would be coming up. The first boardcast that I noticed was Sunday evening, while at JV’s bar, while conversing with friends and enjoying some classic country music. One set of TV’s was covering the WVU vs Marshal U. game. The other a baseball game. When the WVU-Marshall game went into rain delay, I glanced up to see that the baseball game was over and a news commentary program was showing video of the planes hitting he towers, etc, interspersed with comments from various people. I have since heard some thoughtful commentary and interviews on NPR about 9-11, but I did not want to obsess about that day or the 10 years since.
I had planned to not write anything about 9-11, as I figured that we would all be saturated by the time I posted something, and my reflections would be somewhat secondary compared to the thousands who witness or were more closely affected by the events. I am among the millions who are 3 or 4 degrees of separation from those involved. I could write about our move the the mountains 2 years later, but 9-11 was just one of many, and probably not the foremost influence in that decision. Furthermore, I would be concerned about offending family and friends with military connections, who might take my pacifist leaning views as unpatriotic or naively liberal (e.g. 6000 soldiers and 100K to 300K civilians killed to avenge 3000 lives lost on 9-11; $1 trillion in military spending above the base military budget for the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq; loss of civil liberties in the USA, etc.). Then I realized that I was listening to a Requiem (mass for the dead).
So, this weekend of 9-11 remembrance, I have sorted through my classical music collection for other tributes to death. Mozart and Faure’s “Requiem”, Berlioz’s “Te Deum”, Rachmoanifoff’s “Vespers”, Parry’s “Elegy for Brahms”, and Scubert’s “Death and the Maiden”.
On 9-11 2002, I sat in park, awaiting a job interview (which fortunately did not lead anywhere), in another beautiful September day, and wrote this poem:
We read the names of those lost
When planes flown, with intent
To destroy the symbols of our
World success, crash through
The dreams and dreamers of our life.
We read the names of those lost,
But omit nineteen among the dead,
For they commit themselves to end
The insult and oppression they
Believe we force upon their homes.
We read the names of those lost,
In one day, one hour, one moment,
Yet, silent are the corpses
Burried on the battlefield
Or huddled under dry walls
Can we name the lives lost
To ignorance, greed, and godly intent?
I chose to post this after the 9-11 weekend to allow for a different sort of contemplation.