As I’m driving my truck across Canada and the USA, I think of my time here and away.
I go throughout many states, to a different town, same shit, a different day.
I try to see as much of our countries history as I can
To stand upon a treasured spot and touch it with my hand
Each place has its own tale to tell, sites that see no more
Be it a piece of heaven or of hell, of glory or of lore
Some places affect me deep inside my heart and make me very proud
Others still haunt my dreams, and I can hear lost souls aloud
There are a lot of places I’ve been to in my life that most folks will never see
But none have affected me as much as the Crash Site of Flight 93.
It’s outside the town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania in a grassy field.
There were cow’s grazing there at that time, I’m sure there are now.
When I got there I was the only “living” soul.
I didn’t see anyone or….
Would I see other souls?
I couldn’t see them, but I knew they were there.
It was breaking dawn right then, the sun was rising over the tree’s on a slight hill to my left.
I can honestly admit I was a little scared, a tad apprehensive.
I don’t know why, now that I think about it.
Maybe because I knew that people had died a most horrible death here in this quiet place.
I walked out into the field, looking at my feet as I drug them through the dew on the grass.
Then I stopped…and looked up, thinking.
Do you want to know what I did then?
I don’t know what prompted me to do it, but I sat down in the wet grass and took off my shoes and socks.
There were no signs to say that I had too…
Holy ground and all that….
But…it felt “different” here.
Really, really quiet…..
I left my shoes there…neatly sitting side by side, my socks tucked inside them.
I was on sacred ground.
I could tell.
Then for some other reason…I took my camera from around my neck and gently placed it on top of my shoes.
There were no signs saying “No Pictures please”
I just knew.
Sometimes you don’t have to be told about….things…..or “right”.
You’re not supposed to take pictures in a graveyard.
You might trap a soul….
Impossible, you may ask.
No…only the dead know whats real.
Ironic, ain’t it?
I didn’t want to make any noise.
Death has a loud enough echo as it is…or was.
I saw no birds…or heard them singing.
Birds can’t sing sad songs….
They fall out of the sky when they weep.
I stood up and started walking toward the place that would later be marked with a plaque, telling of how 44 humans perished in the worst imaginable way.
When I got to the spot where my heart told me to stop, I got down on my knees.
The bulldozer tracks were still visible on the scarred earth, where hate
fell from heaven that day…
That day…when we all changed into frightened people.
I didn’t know then that the fear would last the rest of my life.
I still take it all for granted, though….
I guess nothing really changes, except the victims and the rage.
I stayed upright on my knees for a few minutes…looking at the sky, at the clouds; trying to imagine a plane spiraling, falling.
I couldn’t imagine it…
I’m not creative in a practical, “hands-on” murderous way.
I don’t think any of us can really.
Way too often…in technicolor and Dolby Surround Sound.
I knelt over and placed my palms on the shiny grass.
Mother Earth was still trembling…or was it just me, or the memory of impact?
I’d like to believe it was both of us shaking….sharing our grief.
I thought of the day it all happened.
That terrible dream of sitting there in front of a TV at my old, widow neighbor’s house; watching a plane crash into a building…
Over and over again the planes crashed.
People were also flying…and they crashed too.
My elderly neighbor whispered “All those poor people…” I reached over and grabbed her hand.
This ain’t supposed to happen in real life.
We watched together as people began to die…alone or in bunches.
Jumping to their deaths from smoking concrete and steel fire.
They would fall rather than burn.
Think about that for a second, or for the next 200 years.
I reached for her and held hands and cried for the innocence that also died that day.
I was crying now…kneeling in the Pennsylvanian dew.
I could feel the tears dropping onto the backs of my hands and rolling between my fingers, speckling the dirt…
Little eye planes crashing into the earth…
”All those poor people…”
I could still hear my “too old”, “too long”, “too much”, “soo tired” neighbor wavering voice.
How many terrible things had this aged woman seen in her time?
More than she wanted, I’d wager.
WWII, Russian nukes, Viet Nam, Selma, Jonestown…etc., infinitum.
More than enough…”too long”, “too much”, “soo tired”…..
All new…..except for the fear that we still live with.
It pisses me the fuck off.
I dug my fingers into the scarred earth and cried harder.
I didn’t hear or worry about the couple that walked up behind me.
I wasn’t embarrassed by my heart and soul spilling onto the earth.
I think back now…
My eye diamonds were mixing with innocent blood on indifferent soil.
I rose back up onto my knees, some of the sacred dirt clenched in my hand.
This fist of scarred earth was going with me.
I would take the tainted earth across America, and when I got to San Francisco I would hold my hand out the window of my truck and let the earth wisp away…
It was a promise…
“You finally made it” I’d say as the dirt flew through my fingers into the wind.
That plan popped into my head as I turned to look at the couple beside me.
I looked at them and said “Sorry, just a little….” My voice died.
They were an elderly couple. They were holding hands. They were crying.
They had on no shoes.
I turned my face from them in respect for their grief.
I saw other people walking from cars along the roadside, coming to the spot my heart told me was the place.
They were all barefoot.
There was a pile of shoes and a pile of cameras neatly lined up near my own.
There were no signs asking us to take off our shoes.
There were no signs asking us not to take pictures.
We just knew…this is not the place to trap souls.
We all just knelt, stood, held hands and cried…together.
Another man…his wife’s head on his shoulder, began to sing “The Old Rugged Cross”
No one joined in the song.
I could imagine 44 others in the hushed choir…..singing thru the veil.
Those of us that were left down here to deal with life, or what we call it now, just listened….
Barefoot in the grass that was there; the day when hate fell from a blue sky.
I’m standing on the Golden Gate Bridge.
There’s no traffic.
It’s an early Sunday morning.
A lone jet soars across the low, pink and orange sky; these passengers made it home on time.
I let the wind blow the screaming earth from my hand.
“Thanks for the lift” the wind said…..
Or was it an echo of someone saying “Let’s Roll”