We are Stewards of the New America

911morning
9/11 essay

One of the more poignant stories I’ve heard this week, as the media does its annual retrospective of terror, is an NPR StoryCorps interview with Vaughn Allex, the poor fellow working the American Airlines front desk who checked in everyone on Flight 77. He remembered all of the other people he’d checked in—an older couple, a student tour group—and two men running late, who turned out to be the terrorists responsible for crashing the plane into the Pentagon. His guilt was like a millstone about his neck.

Then there was another profile, this time in Esquire, this time about the iconic photograph Richard Drew captured of a man hurtling through space after jumping from the molten crown of the Twin Towers. Its subject, dubbed “the Falling Man,” inspired a search among that Tuesday morning’s victims to uncover an identity—a name, a story, anything that would fill in the heart-stopping vacuum of space in which he dives death-ward.

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The Art of Building Sand Castles

LIFE WITH KIDDOS

There’s something existentially good about bringing your children to the beach.

The beach is a homing beacon, a pulse that corrects our attitudes, a constant. Even the first night, after we’d unpacked the van and made the inaugural supply trip and found a simple supper, even then, something compelled us to walk out on the pier, crossing the high tide below us in darkness, the somber fishermen, their night baited hooks lurking forty feet down, the sea gentle and present and lulling us, back and forth, over and over, transfixed.

A fellow plucked a baby shark from the murky sea. The pup flopped about on the pier’s deck a bit until its new master, a grandfather who seemed preternaturally calm about handling even foot-long sharks, bare-handed it. My children gazed on as he pushed the hook back through and untangled his catch. “Want to touch him?” he asked.

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In a Different America

OP-ED

In a different America — not necessarily a better or perfect America, just a different one — our country’s reaction to Alton Sterling’s death at the hands of Baton Rouge police might be enough.

In a different America, we would awake to the news of Philando Castile’s death in Minnesota with the same shock we felt when another plane hit the Twin Towers, with the same feeling of dread when Bobby Kennedy was killed, with the same feeling of helplessness when the bomb went off at the Boston finish line.

In a different America, the Republican House caucus would take up the matter of police brutality against African Americans, opening an investigation into this startling trend made public thanks to vigilant citizens and their cell phone cameras. Speaker Paul Ryan would gavel Congress into a special session so that our country might pause together in a moment of silence to remember Alton and Philando and their families, and others who unjustly died at the hands of justice and their families.

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