Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Shadow of Liberty’s Light

On college campuses, this anniversary of the September 11th attacks is poignant in a new way. Most of our first-year students were born in 2001, and now, even our seniors have very faint memories of the tragedy if they have any recollections at all.

My strongest memories of that event all connect to my work with students: trying to track down former students who were in the proximity of the crashes, and supporting the students on campus who were at sea in the face of mass grief and helplessness.

Last night a group of Susquehanna students placed a flag for each victim of the 9/11 tragedy in front of the campus center. This was a collective effort of the College Democrats, Libertarians, and Republicans. It was a profound reminder that sorrow, respect, and compassion are not ideological. Let us hope our leaders can soon find common ground as freely as these students.

In 2001, my choir asked me to write a commemorative piece for them to sing at Family Weekend, four weeks after the event. The text is below. On this somber anniversary, may the light of liberty and peace shine upon us all.

The Shadow of Liberty’s Light

Requiescant in pace! [Rest in peace!]

Two trees of commerce fallen
In the shadow of liberty’s light,
Tall candles snuffed by terror’s wind
Her lamp still burning bright,
A symbol of our charity,
Of promise and our might.

Requiem in aeternam dona eis Domine: [Grant them eternal peace Lord]
Et lux perpetua luceat eis. [And light perpetual shine on them]

May we who now are mourning
Our dear children, husbands, and wives
In so doing honor them,
Whose too brief stolen lives
May serve as a reminder
Of the future we must seek
If we possess the wisdom
To forgive and turn a cheek
To hatred and to ignorance
Each fed with poverty,
And clear away the darkness
With our lamp of liberty.

Et lux perpetua luceat eis.


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