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Posts Tagged ‘9/11’

Photo: Vince Talotta / Toronto Star
Tom McKeon’s flight was diverted to Canada on 9/11. He says the warm welcome he received made him lose his cynicism. The musical
Come From Away recounts that many lives were changed in Canada that day.

The kindness of strangers is the never-ending story that provides reassurance about the world when it’s needed. In this instance, the thousands of people whose airplane flights were diverted to Canada on 9/11, were welcomed by Canadians in a life-changing moment. The musical Come From Away lets audiences experience what those travelers experienced.

Bruce DeMara writes at the Toronto Star, “Beverley Bass was the pilot of an American Airlines plane, the 36th of 38 flights diverted to Gander, Newfoundland, on Sept. 11, 2001. Hers is one of numerous stories dramatized in the hit musical Come From Away.

“Bass had seen the show 97 times. Sunday’s red-carpet premiere at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, with a new, all-Canadian cast was her 98th. ‘Honestly, there are still times when I’ll tear up.’ …

“Many of the 7,000 who unexpectedly landed in Newfoundland that day had their lives altered by the generosity of their hosts, but Come From Away has given a certain celebrity status to those whose stories are told by the musical.

“ ‘I receive messages and emails every day from people all over and now I’ve even gotten involved in school projects because . . . I can’t say no to the kids,’ Bass says. …

“Bass has also become involved in volunteering, including taking part in relief efforts last summer when Hurricane Harvey hit south Texas. …

“Tom McKeon, whose character in the show is a cynical New Yorker named Bob, said he’s pleased with how he’s portrayed. …

“Kevin Tuerff, who owned an environmental marketing company in Austin, Texas, said he decided to ‘pay it forward’ a year later on the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, and subsequent ones, giving his employees $100 to go out and perform random acts of kindness. … He has most recently become involved in helping refugees and immigrants.

“Being an American refugee — it’s taken me (many) years to reflect on this — but it’s now opened my eyes to the global refugee crisis. So now I’m personally very heavily involved in advocating through my church in helping immigrants and refugees,’ Tuerff said. …

“Hannah O’Rourke lost her eldest child, Kevin, a Brooklyn firefighter trained in rescue operations, on Sept. 11. His body was recovered almost two weeks later in the rubble of the twin towers.

“But O’Rourke made a friend for life in Beulah Davis, whom she met at the Royal Canadian Legion, where O’Rourke stayed and where Davis still volunteers. Davis is also a character in the show and the two women, who call each other every two weeks or so, have been reunited in Toronto in recent days. …

“The loss of her son has taken a heavy toll, O’Rourke added.

“ ‘I (used to be) more outgoing and full of the devil and that. Ah, there’s not a minute of the day that you don’t think, “now he would be enjoying his children and his grandchildren,” ‘ O’Rourke said.

” ‘But I will never forget Gander.’ ”

More here.

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Every once in a while I feel the need to go back to this poem. This is how it ends:

Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

—Adam Zagajewski (Translated, from the Polish, by Clare Cavanagh.)
Published in the New Yorker, September 24, 2011

In 2011, Newsweek had an interesting piece on the author’s perspective.

“A week after the collapse of the Twin Towers,” wrote Matthew Kaminski, “The New Yorker ran Polish poet Adam Zagajewski’s ‘Try to Praise the Mutilated World’ on the final page of its special 9/11 issue. Written a year and a half before the attacks, the poem nevertheless quickly became the most memorable verse statement on the tragedy, and arguably the best-known poem of the last 10 years. …

“Now 66, Zagajewski is the leading poet of the Polish generation that followed Zbigniew Herbert, Czeslaw Milosz, and Wislawa Szymborska. Milosz called his cohorts ‘the poets of ruin,’ forced to grapple with Poland’s bloody 20th century. Zagajewski fits this description as well. He was an infant when his family was loaded onto cattle cars and deported from their home in Lwów [Lviv], to be relocated by Stalin to the Soviet Union. …

“Polish poets have long thought of themselves as national bards, called to engage with the harsh world around them. ‘Polish poetry is one of the marvels of 20th-century literature,’ wrote former U.S. poet laureate Charles Simic. …

“In Zagajewski’s poetry, cruelty mingles with humor, optimism, and a keen appreciation of nature. ‘Well, why not,’ he says. ‘You write a poem. You are alive. You don’t want to be a humorless person. I think that when you write poems you aspire to something whole that’s bigger than simply lament. In poetry I think you try to reconstruct what’s humanity. Humanity is always a mix of crying and laughing.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Wikimedia
Astronomical twilight as seen from a plane window.

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Photo: Boston Globe
Al Filipov died on Sept. 11. He was on the plane from Boston.

After September 11, 2001, good works sprouted around the country, launched by people from all walks of life who were determined that goodness should have the last say.  The Huffington Post collected a bunch of these initiatives for one anniversary of the tragedy, here, but you can find examples in nearly every community.

In Concord, Al Filipov, who was on one of the planes, is honored in several ways, including by the Filipov Peace and Justice Forum.

Al’s son, Boston Globe reporter David Filipov, once recalled his father as “engineer, inventor, sailor, deacon, coach, husband, dad, raconteur.” The Filipov forum website adds that he was a painter and a human rights activist, noting,

“He sought out the best in people and cared passionately about the world in its beauty and pain. He earnestly believed in the power of an individual to make a difference in the world.”

The 2016 Al Filipov Peace & Justice Forum will take place on September 25 at the Trinity Congregational Church on Walden Street in Concord. Representatives from the Parents Circle-Families Forum are the featured guests. The Parents Circle is made up of bereaved Palestinian and Israeli families that have come together to support “peace, reconciliation and tolerance.”

As one member says in the video below, people from different sides of a conflict need to get to know one another as individuals and share commonalities in order to let go of “being right” all the time instead of creating peace. Otherwise any future agreement is just a cease fire.

The presentation will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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When I was 14, I went to the big city every week to live with my aunt’s family and attend school with a younger cousin.

On winter Mondays I arose in the dark. My mother drove me to the bus station, where I got on a bus with my big suitcase and my book bag — and for a while, a clarinet.

When I disembarked at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, I took a cab to school, and later in the day, I lugged the whole kit ‘n’ kaboodle on a city bus to my aunt’s apartment. That first year there were three other kids in the apartment, with another away at school.

This past Monday, I arose in the dark, put my bags in the car, and drove about the same distance as the bus ride I took Mondays at age 14 to a new job in Providence. I’m staying a couple nights a week with Suzanne’s family, which includes two children under 4. Altogether, it’s an adventure with resonance.

So far, I have only two photos to share: one of a 9/11 tile mural that every man woman and child in Providence seems to have worked on, and one of people ice skating in Kennedy Plaza. I hope to have lots more pictures, especially when I can take my walks outdoors. So far it has been too cold, and I have just walked in the mall, where the sights are not, shall we say, photogenic. I’ve been enjoying the new job and also answering questions from folks at the old job. Having handled a biggish transition when I was 14 makes the current transition feel familiar and rather comfortable.

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Sept-11-in-the-Greenway

 

There was an event in the Greenway today to commemorate Sept. 11. A lot of companies volunteered to help the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund prepare care packages for service men and women.

The fund’s website explains that the care-package service project was to support active duty service members and veterans. Activities included “building 500 military care packages for our service men and women overseas, writing letters of support to our troops, building care packages for our local veterans in need, and a pledge drive for the families supported by the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund.” More here.

I saw the mayor having his picture taken, so I took his picture, too.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh at 9/11 service project in the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.
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Try to praise the mutilated world.

Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees heading nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

—Adam Zagajewski (Translated, from the Polish, by Clare Cavanagh.)
Published in the New Yorker, September 24, 2011

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