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Mission of “Angels Over America”

The events of September 11, 2001 will be a part of the American consciousness forever. How they are held there will shape our future, individually and as a Nation.


Historians will be writing about September 11 and its impact on America and the rest of the world far into the future. In the final analysis, it is not the events themselves that will have the most profound impact, but how we as a people incorporate those events into our national myth. As with most major events, people will, by and large, remember what happened less from historians than from the interpretations of artists. How we hold these events in our minds and hearts will inevitably evolve over time, increasingly shaped by musicians and poets, artists and playwrights.


It has been said that the artist is the true futurist. As such, the artist holds up an image of our future, and we rise to its potential. In the arts we find the true America—a nation of hope and resilience, of honor and integrity. The role of the arts is incalculable in determining how we evolve as a people.


American political poet Carolyn Forché says, “One of the things that I believe happens when poets bear witness to historical events is that everyone they tell becomes a witness too, everyone that they tell also becomes responsible for what they have heard and what they now know.”


It is the poet who chronicles events so that future generations can experience the truth beyond facts on such a visceral level that they, with that indelible experience and the perspective of time, can create a better world.


Bob Dylan has said, “The highest purpose of art is to inspire. What else can you do? What else can you do for anyone but inspire them?”


As a work of art, “Angels Over America” is certainly intended to inspire. But it has a mission beyond its role as a work of art, a memorial, and a source of inspiration and healing. “Angels Over America” is my soul-searching attempt to recreate the spirit of the nation during the days and the weeks following 9/11, because it is important that we never forget that tragic day, and we never forget what got us through it – our courage, our compassion, and our commitment to preserving the American Spirit – that spirit of freedom known to all the world.

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