Winslow may be famous for its location on Route 66 and the noteworthy ‘Standin’ On The Corner Park,‘ but it has a sobering tiny roadside park just on the eastern outskirts of town called the Remembrance Garden. There’s no garden, no pretty landscaping, or elaborate signs announcing its location. There are two large beams standing–a blunt and stark reminder of a dark day in United States history. They are two of the largest remnants from the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City from September 11, 2001.
It is rumored Winslow wanted to honor the victims and families from the terrorist attack in our country in 2001, and submitted a proposal to New York explaining how they would use the beams. When New York agreed to gift them to Winslow, the small town was required to handle shipping. Winslow reached out to the Wal-Mart Corporation who agreed to ship the beams from New York to Winslow without charge.
Roy, Judy, Mike, and I arrived at the Remembrance Garden just before sunset. The flag was waving in the wind, the snapping as background sound while we silently surveyed the memorial. The beams were a stark physical reminder of the many Americans killed and injured in the cowardly assault, and it brought home the devastation of the attack and how it’s affected us personally and as a country.
I studied the beams closely and ran my hands across them, feeling the rough texture and virility of the steel. They were bent, misshapen, and twisted. I imagined the bone-chilling fear of people trying to escape the buildings and pain of families left mourning those lost–I remembered how I mourned and I didn’t know any victims personally. I felt the coldness of the steel and flashed back to firefighters and first responders running INTO the building to save those still inside, and again felt the sadness for ones who did not return. I felt the curves and noted the coloring reflected in the setting sun, and the memory of how we lost our innocence by experiencing terrorism directly on our soil hurt my soul.
Then, the flapping and snapping of the flying flag seemed to get louder. I saw it waving in the chilly wind. Still strong. Still proud. Still intact.
Maybe we all need to revisit our emotions during and after the attack of September 11, 2001, and educate our kids and grandkids about that awful, dreadful event. We should explain to them how none of us were labeled liberals or conservatives in the aftermath–we were Americans who mourned together as one Nation.
Some view our country as being bent, twisted, and misshapen, but it can make us stronger if we simply listen. We all need to take a quiet moment, remember, and hear the incessant flapping and snapping of the flag as it flies in the wind. Still strong. Still proud. Still intact.
It’s our hope.
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