Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years later: 9/11 at 10 p.m. at Salem

Near silence.

All that was left in Riverfront park in Salem was the humming of generators that powered bright lights on the remaining flags that had been solemn reminders of terrorist actions five years ago; the soft murmur of a few families who walked slowly along the rows of American flags; consolation offered in a few last embraces for mourning family members dressed in black who came for a tribute they found hard to leave.

There was not a single breath of breeze.
Not a single flag moved, not even a flutter.

People carefully lifted the edges of the flags, gazed at the thousands of names in the stripes of the flag, and those larger words about honor and remember and 9/11.

The workers began to remove the flags, the last few people who purchased their flags began to make their way home.

Back to catch the television stations play the day's speeches over and over. Replay images of burning towers in New York, a smoky Pentagon, a still image of a plane wreck in a field that never was allowed to reach its target destination. There were names, one by one, listed by authorities, and by people who lost their loved ones.

And there were images of Afghanistan, Iraq, of terrorists that continue to add each day more victims that will increase these flags on future memorial fields.

At times like this, perhaps all that can be left are the pictures, reminders that each flag represents a person, a life, a terrible tragedy.

We will remember them.

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