Courage at Twilight: 9/11 at 20

I was in a hotel elevator, at a conference on domestic violence prosecution, in Provo, Utah, when I learned of the attacks on the Twin Towers. The scheduled speakers yielded to the television screens as we watched, stunned and horrified.  Twenty years later, I walked amidst 2,977 American flags planted in a field, a Healing Field, in my new residence city of Sandy.  Each flag had a tag with a name and a story of where he worked, how she was loved by family and friends, what their hobbies were, their age, their loved ones, and the location of their death: World Trade Center; Pentagon; Flight 93 in a Pennsylvania field near Shanksville.  I read a hundred or so tags on flags flying for the people who died on 9/11/2001.  I had dressed in a jacket and tie, thinking it fitting.  The next day I drove Mom and Dad slowly around the field, twice, because they couldn’t walk, but they wanted to see, they wanted to honor, and I told them about the persons I had read about—the Flight 93 pilot, the World Trade Center trader, the Pentagon general, the child traveling with her mother, the secretary, the cook.  And the next day I descended on the field with 300 other volunteers to remove the tags, roll up the flags, and yank the three-foot rebar from the ground, one each for 2,977 persons, including 411 first responders, whom we have promised to always remember.  I rolled flags and yanked rebar with people aged from 10 to 80.  One of the octogenarians poked me with the butt of a flag, and apologized, and I joked, “You know, I have always been told to watch out for pretty ladies rolling up American flags,” and she laughed.  A small older man followed me and others as we pulled rebar from the ground, carrying heavy stacks of the stuff to the flatbed trailer.  I called him “Rebar Man” but his real name was Ishmael Castillo, a brawny little man with a big soft heart who came to help.  I thanked the organizer, and he gave me a 20-year commemorative bronze medallion.  I saw the Alta High School NHS photographer looking in the now-empty field for his lost lens cap, and I asked him if he had received a 9/11/2021 medallion, and gave him mine, because I had bought one for myself on 9/11.  “That is amazing,” he gasped his thanks.  The empty field will endure, now, until 9/11/2022.

 

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