, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 780-781
Date: 26 Apr 2013

Anointing 9/11

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Abstract

As a psychiatrist treating veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder in the New Jersey Veterans Healthcare system and a violist, I seek to combine the two fields by playing music for veterans’ events and ceremonies. I was inspired to write this poem about the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, after performing there Veterans Day weekend as part of the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. It was a cold and breezy November day, but that did not hinder countless visitors from paying homage to those who lost their lives on that fateful date. The musical selections chosen, from Amazing Grace and Nearer My God to Thee to the Largo “Going Home” theme from Dvorak’s New World Symphony, sought to honor both the Vietnam veterans and the victims of 9/11. The reflecting pools at the 9/11 site, which serve as a somber reminder of the staggering loss and emptiness of that tragic day, presented me with conflicting emotions. Contemplating the finality of the deaths was overwhelming, but at the same time, I believed the flowing water symbolized the renewal of life. As I touched one of the victim’s names on the side of a reflecting pool, I imagined a widow touching her husband’s inscription and the unbearable sorrow she must feel knowing that she would never be able to kiss him again. Yet, there was also a chance that her grief could be transformed by a visual remembrance of his life. After the ceremony, wind blew misty drops from the reflecting pools, as though the drops were holy water sprinkled at Mass. As the water brushed my face, I was moved by the spiritual meaning of this place and of the solemn connection to those who perished and of those left behind.