Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Reflecting on 9/11


October 11, 2001


No one sees us weeping

No one sees us praying

No one sees us trying

to piece together pieces

in our private places, but

it’s flags we see

They color bustling boulevards

and line our sleepy side streets

Huge ones hang from poles

in front of municipal buildings

and are draped across storefronts

Star spangled banners wave briskly in the breeze

over our white-washed porches

We stick smaller ones in flower boxes

along with the chrysanthemums

Construction paper ensigns

are taped to every classroom window

Flags flutter from car antennae

and are glued to our bumpers

Ostentatious ones stream from rusty red pick-ups

and sleek eighteen-wheelers

Our colors are strung from bridges

and unfurled across overpasses

We even see them tied from tree to tree


Apollo Flag had customers lined up

outside and around the building for over a week

The front of an old clapboard house

on Webster Avenue is painted like Old Glory

and the cement retaining wall is studded with stars

The owner’s boss gave him the day off

to finish the job, and

The Philadelphia Inquirer

snapped it and printed it on Page 2

People drive by just to see it

A talented graphic artist painted

a weeping Lady Liberty

flanked by red, white and blue

on “The Wall” in Ringwood

as a poignant memorial to the missing


No one sees us weeping

No one sees us praying

No one sees us trying

to piece together pieces

in our private places, but

it’s flags we see

We see them on patriotic T-shirts

on rhinestone stars and stripes

and ribbons pinned to our lapels

We even place miniature banners

in miniature stands on shelves and desktops

and download tiny ones

to ever-wave in the lower right corner

of our computer screens

That magnificent banner

raised high above the wreckage and carnage

where until one month ago

The Twin Towers stood

is seared upon our memory banks


Suddenly, it’s not an occasional flag we see

not a rare salute

Suddenly, we’re singing “God Bless America”

and our national anthem, a little louder

a lot more earnestly

our hand placed firmly upon our heart

Suddenly, we’re more apt to shed

a “proud to be an American” tear

Suddenly, it’s not merely accustomed banners

flying from government buildings

and outside new car dealerships

Suddenly, the stars and stripes are not reserved

for Flag Day and the Fourth of July

Suddenly, we’re flying crisp new flags

of a crisp new patriotism

and frayed dingy flags

of a proud old patriotism, renewed


Tears may flow in secret

for the victims and ourselves

Heart-wrenched prayers may appear invisible

as they work in realms beyond what eyes can see

but in the light of day

and beneath porch lights at night

our true colors

our red, white and blue colors

fly boldly in terror’s twisted face

and it’s flags, flags, flags we see


Maude Carolan

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