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SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – The week of September 11th has always seemed a bit surreal around Shrewsbury. Until just two years ago, it’s culminated with the candlelight vigil in town center, lead by the Leaders of Tomorrow group. Over the years, thousands have attended, in good weather and bad and few have left without having been personally moved by the experience. We’ve had fantastic guest speakers, from Congressman McGovern, Senator Moore, Representatives Polito and Beaton and many, many more. After last years 10th anniversary event, which drew over 500 people to town center, many felt that instead of an annual event, it might be time to look towards the future – still remembering the great sacrifices that our nation endured, but moving towards an event that might be held every five years or so.
At the time, that seemed to make a lot of sense. After all, so much of it has all been said before – yet as this week comes up upon us, I can’t help but miss the big ramp up to the vigil, and hope that even though the group isn’t going to draw the town together tonight, that we still pause to in some way reflect on the unfathomable loss that occurred that fateful day, and the thousands of brave men and women in our armed forces who’ve paid the ultimate price since then, fighting overseas to keep us safe here at home.
In the past years, those in attendance were read an amazing poem written by Kimberly Dunne, called “Who am I?” that reflected upon the experiences of those who had a front row seat to the tragic events of September 11th, 2001. It’s a wonderful piece that still evokes in me a visceral memory of that day, watching the disaster unfold on television, running to the Red Cross and waiting in line for hours to donate blood, and attending that first candlelight ceremony at town hall a few days later. I thought I’d share that poem with you all here today, just so it’s fresh in all of our minds. After all, as the saying goes, he who forgets the past is condemned to relive it.
If you’d like to watch a tape of the 10th anniversary vigil, which Shrewsbury Public Access has available. you can view it on demand by going to this link and typing vigil into the search box. http://home.townisp.com/~spacmac1/SMC_Video_Player/Video_Player.html
Who am I?
by Kimberly Dunn
I am no one special.
I’m the little boy that gives up his favorite teddy bear so that a stranger might be comforted.
I’m the single mother who has been trying to teach her child to sleep in their own bed, who holds them tight long into the night, thanking God it wasn’t her child that died.
I’m the old man, angry and resentful that his military doesn’t want him because of his age.
I’m the teenage girl that spends hours cutting ribbons for others to wear as a symbol of remembrance.
I’m the young man who doesn’t understand why his father was running up the stairs as the building fell, trying to save just one more person, instead of saving himself.
I’m the old woman who will never see her grandchild again.
I’m the little girl, playing with her doll, who can’t understand when someone screams hateful things at her because of where her family is from.
I’m the police officer, trying to keep idiotic reporters safe, when his wife is still among the missing.
I’m the fire fighter that called in sick that day, only to discover that someone else died in his place.
I’m the man who survived the falling building only to learn that his sister and baby niece were in the plane.
I’m the dog handler, searching for bodies, that has to comfort my animal when only death remains.
I’m the woman who stands in line for five hours in order to give blood, hoping to help strangers in need.
I’m the man who gets up and goes to work every day, in spite of the tragedy, because he still has a family to feed.
I’m the first passenger to get back on a plane, even though I’m terrified, because I know somebody has to be first.
Who am I?
I’m nobody special. I’m just an American.