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Historians vs. poets

By Carolyn K. Long

How can be best cope with the anniversary of this tragedy?

Columbia, MD_September 11, 2009__ Each year on the anniversary of September 11, the nation pauses to remember the tragedy that befell our nation on that day in 2001, when four planes took the lives of thousands of citizens, and shattered the lives and sense of security of millions more. Each year the media covers tributes honoring those lost at Ground Zero where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center once stood, at the temporary memorial in the farmer’s field at Shanksville, PA, and at the Pentagon in Washington, DC.



There are songs and moving speeches by political leaders and heartbreaking accounts by survivors and loved ones. There are news reports on our progress on everything from rebuilding lives to rebuilding structures. And there are assurances and debates about our increased security.



But how does the individual hold such a huge event?  How does the mind grasp it? How does the heart hold such pain and devastation and still go on? There are those who think the American people will want to forget and “get over” this horrific event. They compare it to Oklahoma City. But the impact of 9/11 is more on the magnitude of Pearl Harbor, and will be part of the American consciousness forever. Just how it is held there will shape our future, as individuals and as a nation.



Historians record events, from inevitably varying perspectives. It is left to the poets to translate those events and help people to heal and go on. It is through the poet’s eyes that future generations experience and understand historical events, and with new perspective, can create a better world. So it is to the arts that one might turn to celebrate 9/11, whether seeking comfort or understanding.



The 9/11 Memorial poem and 8-minute video “Angels Over America” celebrates the courage and resilience that are hallmarks of the American Spirit, while providing perspective, healing, and hope. The work’s unique metaphor is dramatically grounded in reality and spiritually uplifting. It speaks to a nation torn by grief and anger, frustration and fear. And it speaks to an underlying humanity and restraint which are the backbone of this powerful nation.



The four segments of “Angels Over America” trace the evolution of awareness, emotion and understanding that lead to transcendence. This beautiful tribute brings a new perspective to a pivotal moment in our nation’s history, while preserving and renewing the indomitable American Spirit.



Award-winning New York arranger and composer Mark Freeh co-produced the video from Carolyn Long’s poem, “Angels Over America,” against the backdrop of powerful 9/11 images and his stirring arrangement of “America the Beautiful” and moving renditions of “Amazing Grace” and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”


The “Angels Over America,” poem and video can be viewed or downloaded from the website A YouTube version is also linked to the site. A copy of the video on DVD and a laminated poster of the poem, “Angels Over America,” are available from the website or by email from


Carolyn K. Long , author of “Angels Over America” and co-producer of the 9/11 memorial video of that name, is a professional speaker, consultant, writer and photographer, based in Columbia, MD.

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The events of 911 will be a part of the American consciousness forever.

How they are held there will shape our future.

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