This past June, we took our son on his first trip to Washington, D.C.
Showed him the city in grand style. The museums, the monuments, the zoo. Even the U.S. Capitol thanks to my husband’s college friend Rep. Vicky Hartzler.
Previously I’d spent a good deal of time in D.C. I knew the ropes. But this trip would be my first visit to the Pentagon. Don’t know why I hadn’t gone before.
My husband had work commitments that day, so my little boy and I were on our own. We rode the yellow line out to the Pentagon stop. Emerged from the Metro tunnel into hot, blinding sunlight. Passed through security. Beheld the military headquarters of the free world.
The Pentagon is massive.
We walked two long sides girded by concrete barriers. Crossed paths with dozens of strong men and women. Upright, built, neat as pins in their uniforms, marching to their cars or the train. It was late afternoon. Time for some to go home.
Then we came to the place we’d come to see.
It was seamless and silent. Completely ordered. Respectful. Logical. Such a stark contrast to what must have been the moment the plane torpedoed the southwest side of the building.
And it was beautiful. The pools of water. The trees and pebbles. The paths and benches.
The benches stood in trajectories arched toward the building for the 59 passengers on the plane who died and arched away for the 125 people in the Pentagon who died. Engravings held the victims’ names.
Another mother walked among the benches and the names with her son.
“How do I explain this to him?” she said to me.
I shrugged. Nodded. Tried to connect with her eyes, “I know. I know.”
My son and I walked on through the memorial. The strange peacefulness that sometimes inhabits a graveyard hung in the air. I wondered if he felt it too.
I let it be. Didn’t try to explain it.
There is no explaining it.
If there is pain, fear, sadness, anger—that’s part of grief. Part of a process that can’t be circumvented, reasoned or negotiated.
The only way through it is through it.
But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
You consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to You;
You are the helper of the fatherless. Psalm 10:14 NIV
Courtesy of The Red , White and Blue (The Angry American) by Toby Keith expresses the anger and resolve many Americans felt in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
This is the second of three posts commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9.11.2001. The first post Somewhere in Pennsylvania was published on August 24, 2011. The final post If You See Something was published on September 10, 2011.