Saturday, September 10, 2016

It Happened 15 Years Ago

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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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