Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I didn't think to write a post on 9/11 here this morning since I don't think about the day in relationship to genealogy, and I have another blog where I post my thoughts on all other topics.

But after reading Randy, Miriam and Jasia,

I decided to write a few thoughts.

First, I refuse to listen to Alan Jackson's song despite Miriam's suggestion. I didn't hear it played today, but I've heard it so much, I don't need to listen to it, and it has always bugged me. I like country music generally, and Alan Jackson has some good songs, but I can't stand the idea of bragging about not knowing the difference between Iraq and Iran. You can tell me the narrator of the song isn't bragging, but he's setting himself up as the 'common man' because he is ignorant of world geography and events, but somehow the fact that he is 'common' and ignorant is supposed to make his opinions more 'real' or 'valid' and that seems like bragging to me about his ignorance. The recent American phenomenon of actually turning knowledge and learning into something 'bad' and ignorance into something 'good' is very disturbing to me. I would much rather elect a politician - for any office - who spoke with intelligence than one who I felt I could sit down and have a beer with. End of Soapbox.

I won't bother anyone with any more of my political thoughts about the past six years.

9/11: I remember where I was. I was at work. And being at an investment brokerage there was a television playing the Financial News Network in the hallway all day. And every hour or so I'd get up and spend 10 minutes in the hallway with a group of others and see if any more news had come in.

Here's a poem I wrote shortly after 9/11, which I think is appropriate to post here:

Two Photographs

Looking at a photo
on my office cubicle shelf
taken 25 years ago
of my mother, brother, sister and I
standing at the Statue of Liberty,
my sister wearing a bicentennial tshirt,
and the New York skyline in the background
with the World Trade Center
three years old to my seven

I recollect another photo
from my grandfather’s collection
of him sitting on a horse
in front of a partially completed
Mount Rushmore.

© 2001 John Newmark

(Note: I had assumed the date of the photograph from my sister's tshirt, but after writing the poem, I showed it to my parents who told me that the picture was actually taken in 1977. My sister just liked the shirt enough to wear it a year later. I didn't change the ages in the poem, as I preferred the sound of the ages I had. The details in a poem don't always have to be 100% true.)


Jasia said...

Very nice poem and very nice post John! You make a good point about society championing the less well educated among us. I like Alan Jackson though his song about 9/11 is not one of my favorites from his collection.

Besides the traditional patriotic songs and anthems, my favorite is "proud to be an American" by Lee Greenwood. As much as I hated the tragic events that occured on 9/11, I sure liked the wave of patriotism that swept across this country. I wish we could get that back.

Thanks for the link!

Janice said...


I enjoyed your post, and your poem. I agree with you about the "ignorance vs intelligence" issue.


Miriam Robbins said...

Hi, John,

I enjoyed the poem, especially the mental images of the two photographs...one of the modern against a background that no longer exists; the other of the past in front of a background that endures.

As far as Alan Jackson goes...I love country music, but I DO know the difference between Iraq and Iran, both politically and religiously! I've heard of many people being annoyed by that particular line! I think that you understand that my point in suggesting listening to his song was to capture the emotions connected to the memories of where you were "when the world stopped turning." There are a lot of phrases in that particular song that I connected with, such as "did you burst out in pride for the red, white, and blue?" and of course, "teaching a class full of innocent children."

I hope you preserve an account of your 9/11 memories for the generations to come.


John said...

I do identify with the parts of the song about the importance of love and family, and did understand that's why you wanted us to listen to it, but other parts of the song disturb me enough I can't focus on the parts I agree with. I feel that way about several 'patriotic' Country songs.

I support patriotism, but not the "love it or leave it" kind. The "love it, or work to make it better" kind, where those out protesting the government's actions are equally as patriotic as those who are waving flags. (I'm not suggesting I think anyone else in particular feels differently.)

My memories of what I did and thought during the 24 hours of 9/11/01 aren't well preserved. My thoughts and opinions in the months and years afterward are preserved in stuff I have written -- most of which is saved on my computer and elsewhere. For better or worse, future generations of my family at least should know how I felt about a lot of things.