rocks on the shore of the Mississippi are damp and the path is
precarious. The atmosphere meets the muddy water and shrouds the
banks in fog. The humidity of the October morning has dampened my
clothing and my mood.
out for at least one mile, the riverbank is lined with people. Some
are sitting on rocks or grass. Some stand. One man, dressed in the
Stars and Stripes and waving a huge flag has taken the anchor
position in the crowd.
are all waiting for the US New York to float past us on its way to
New York City for commissioning. The warship has left the shipyard
where it grew from the melted remains of the Twin Towers and our naive country’s sense of safety.
all wait, straining our eyes across the foggy river that defines this
part of the United States and I consider my place here.
sat in the Café du Monde, the evening before, surrounded by family
and friends. We talked and laughed; attended by a Chinese man who
barely spoke English. We read aloud our writings – poems of life,
stories of love and protests of war. We read aloud for ourselves but
not unnoticed by those around us. And I wondered, just what does the
Chinese waiter think.
are here, reading aloud in a public place, presenting our opinions
and the response is laughter, and smiles and applause. In his country
such a display holds the possibility of prison, torture and death.
wait for the ship. Peacefully gathered. Civilians and police mingle
and the atmosphere is celebratory but it is also bittersweet.
remember an image from the early hours after the Towers fell.
Hospital workers in ER bays, IV’s spiked and empty stretchers –
waiting. The distressed faces of the staff haunt me. They reflected
the reality – those stretchers would remain empty. Would it have
been better to have had them full?
the US New York slips through the fog and collectively the crowd is
on its feet. Flags are waving and a band plays in the distance. I am
overwhelmed with pride. We never catch a clear image of the ship. The
fog on the river shrouds it behind a veil.
|If you look closely towards the back you can see the crew waving. Ghostly, huh?|
the ship makes its way around a bend I see the silhouettes of the
crew. They stand aft, waving back towards the shore. A chill runs
through me as I feel the souls of those that are gone. Do the people
here on the banks feel it? They must, the banks are silent. Does the
crew feel it?
I wonder, was a warship really the best thing to come of all that
above essay was written three years ago on October 25, 2009. A few days prior, I found
myself on a different part of the Mississippi River coast and quite
by accident was witness to the scene above. I don't know why I
happened to be there at that moment in time. I am not a particularly 'political' person. I did not lose anyone in 9/11. But as an ER nurse I felt a painful connection to those in service in New York and Washington DC. I guess THE COSMOS is throwing me a hint, but I am not good at guessing games. I do know those images will stay with me
forever and there was something calming for me to see the people waiting for the ship.
lot has changed in our world since 2009. But one fundamental thing
has not. We remain free. Sure, we may have to practically strip down
to board an airplane. Our economy is as shaky as the San Andreas
Fault. And we are still Free to complain about it. We are Free to
gather together to celebrate football and baseball and sparkly
vampires. We are Free to question the banking industry, the medical
care industry and the wisdom of making cars shaped like squares. We
can point fingers at our elected officials and say "What the
Fuck?" And we are Free to come together and remember.)