Author: Susan Culver
Published on: September 12, 2001

They stood side by side, the three of them there, in the September morning sun and with dew cool on their bare toes. They were silent as he pulled the ropes down and carefully took the flag from his sisters, attached it securely, and then slowly rose it again. Higher and higher, yet only halfway up. He brought it to a stop there and they all looked upon it.

"What does it mean to mourn?" The younger sister asked as she watched this symbol float in the breeze. At seven years old, her young mind still struggled to understand all that had happened in the past twenty for hours. "It means that we are sad for America today," her older sister answered and looked at me for reassurance that this was the right answer.


I nodded an acknowledgment that she had remembered what I had told her. "It means that we are sad for the ones who died and that they are a part of us and we are a part of them."

"Which part of them are we?" The little one asked and I longed to answer - to tell her for sure - though this is a facet of my heart and of the heart of a country that I am only now learning myself through grief and through tragedy.

We are the voices that lifted up prayers on the morning of America's horror and in every second since.

We are the tears shed for those who lept from burning buildings.

We are the minds that surged forward and wondered what the coming hours and the coming days would bring.

We are the honor of the fire fighters who rushed into a dangerous scene with no thought of their own lives, but of those they might save.

We are the pride of their families and their friends, silently pleading for a glimpse of them emerging unharmed from the destruction.

We are the lungs filled with dust, and the hands that dug tirelessly in the masses.

We are the hope of life within the shadows and the voids.We are the eyes that did not turn away, we are the feet that walked for miles in search of help.

We are the blood pumped into plastic containers to be given to others.

We are the shoulders to cry upon, we are the seekers of innocence within the terror.

We are the triumphant cry of the survivors, we are the sob of those gone too soon.

We are the comforters of families who waited for planes that never arrived.

We are rejoicers of a thousand brightly colored souls that danced to heaven on wings, high above our sadness.

We are the coming together of men and machine to pick up the pieces of what has been shattered.

We are the resolve of our leaders and the raisers of the flag.

We are the finger that etched the words "God Bless America" in the dust upon the city street.

We are the bearers of this history, the ones entrusted to carry the memory of lives lost to the future generations.

The ones to ensure that they will not be forgotten.

We are them, and they are us.

We are one people and one country.

We are that which they will forever stand for, they are that which we strive to be.

We are America.

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