Category Archives: Terrorism

9/11: Faces & Feathers of Hope

Poetry_Friday_Button_2-210 REDUCED   Christine Pisera Naman, who birthed a son on September 11, 2001, honored all babies born that fateful day by authoring a commemorative pictorial book that featured her son and forty-nine other babies—one from every State.

Each child was honored with a two-page spread: one page provided a close-up photo; the other page offered well-wishes, expressed in the forms of “hopes.”

What I especially liked about the “hopes” was that they chronicled the freedom children have to be innocently, spontaneously, joyfully themselves: jumping in rain puddles, wishing upon stars, catching snowflakes on their tongues, carving jack-o-lanterns, blowing bubbles, running through the grass barefooted, coloring outside the lines, doing somersaults, wishing upon stars, making snow angels, putting teeth under their pillows, waiting for the tooth fairy–and so much more.

The title of the book speaks to the gift that the birth of those fifty children represented in the face of 9/11: Faces of Hope. Hope in the midst of death and pain. Hope in response to a temptation to succumb to feelings of vulnerability and hopelessness. Hope, embodied as the fruit of love, standing strong in defiance of hatred and violence.

And as a teacher-librarian, when I think of embodying hope, I think of the words of Emily Dickinson’s definitional poem.

Hope is the thing with feathers
               Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Inasmuch as the poem captures the mystery, majesty, humility, and tenacity of hope in the face of adversity, America’s united, optimistic response to the hatred, evil, and violence of the terrorism that struck on September 11, it seems to me, makes it appear as if Dickinson wrote this poem in advance commentary.

Faces of hope. That’s what the babies born on 9/11 were. That’s what babies always are. And speechless as they are, their every coo and babble communicate an optimism that circumstances–no matter how adverse–dare not silence.

Perhaps that is why the words of poet Carl Sandburg, included on the back cover of Faces of Hope seem apropos: “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”

Now, fourteen years later, inspired by the hope embodied by those babies who were born that fateful day, as well as by those babies who have continued to be born each day since–America has gone on.

And for that unique, living gift that babies are, for the gift of themselves that validates life and love and hope, the sum total cost of having and loving babies in return—no matter how much—is comparably, insignificantly small.

In the context of 9/11, how do Emily Dickinson’s words, as well as Carl Sandburg’s, speak to you of hope?

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