I just pulled out my monthly planning calendar for 2001. There it is, in red ink, marked on September 11: "WTC Attack." I wrote it in that little box on my calendar so that I'd never forget. Who could?
The following day, Jay and I were scheduled to go to Disney World for a vacation. We canceled. It's crossed out in red ink.
The following week, on Saturday, September 22nd, I was scheduled to be in New York City to conduct my annual choral reading session for the New York Federation of Teachers. Needless to say, the event was canceled. It's also crossed out in red ink.
Many lives changed forever on that day. Many plans were ruined. Many families, many hearts—broken.
Jay and I had been working on a patriotic medley earlier that month, but we hadn't come up with the words for the opening and closing fanfare. We had everything else in place: a touch of "Simple Gifts," followed by the first verse of "America, the Beautiful," an uplifting verse of "America," and a chorus of "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Morty Manus, Alfred's owner, called us from New York City. He knew we were struggling to complete the medley, and he had just seen a banner stating "United We Stand." That was the final inspiration we needed to complete our work. I also remember we chose to use the perhaps more appropriate but lesser-known third verse for "America, the Beautiful," which states:
O beautiful for heroes proved
in liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved,
and mercy more than life.
Today, as I look at my copy of that medley, I see the simple statement we carefully placed above the title on the first page of music: September, 2001.
Music can help us honor those we've lost, celebrate those who have served, restore faith to those in need, and commemorate the memories of all whose lives were touched or changed in some way over these past ten years.