9-11 Morning

September 11, 2017 by Claire Coleman

This morning at 6:50 I sat at my desk with a heaviness, a sadness, a weight in my heart. It is September 11. The mention of the day evokes deep painful memories. The anniversary of the day creates flashbacks – the blue of the sky, the innocence of a back-to-school Tuesday in early September and the routines of our mornings. The world changed at 8:46.

I sat with a mug of coffee and stare out the window, at the lawn that sweeps down to the water, at the dock and the lounges and the American flag anchored in its spot and swaying with the occasional breeze. The sun was rising. There was the merest hint of it through a break in the thick leaves of the lower branches of the oaks – a bright orangey-yellow triangle peeking at me. It cast a dot of the same color light on the lake. I return to my blank page, my notebook, and my coffee. A minute, maybe two, I look up and the dot has elongated. Hmmm, I said to myself, it looks like a flame. Head down, back to writing.

Maybe five or six minutes pass and I looked up again. I saw a brilliant tower of light, stretching out from the dock, lined up perfectly behind the flag, flashing and shimmering on top of the water with the sun’s full radiance. It was a flaming tower of light. I grabbed my phone to photograph it, knowing full well that from a distance and behind a window the image would lose clarity. But I feared I would miss the moment if I moved. I took eight shots.

Look at this one:


The tower of light that I saw with my eyes came through the lens of the camera as a candle with a small flame atop.

So, this is my blog. Not many words, just a light – a candle to memorialize all who were lost.

Never forget.

The Unknown Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine

November 10, 2016 by Claire Coleman

For the longest time when I thought of veterans, I thought of my dad, his brother, my father-in-law, and their friends. Men of “that” generation who fought in World War II, the ones who still inspire books and movies. Last October while in France, I toured the D-Day beaches of Normandy and the stark sacredness of the American cemetery there. My iPhone pictures don’t capture the width and length of the beaches where 160,000 Allied forces stormed across the sand as the Germans rained lead from the high ground, or the height of the cliffs scaled by Army Rangers at Pointe du Hoc.
Recently, my brother, my nephew and a close family friend all wore their uniforms to my son’s wedding. My brother, a retired Navy captain, served in Vietnam, during the Gulf War and in the Naval Command Center at the Pentagon. He was not on duty on September 11 but the man who sat in his chair was, and died that day when the hijacked plane slammed into the building. A reservist at the time, he was called into service immediately. I will never forget his call to me that day, “I won’t be able to contact you.”
My nephew, an Army Engineer, served in Iraq and was there when his first son was born. Hunting for IEDs in a heavily armored vehicle was one of his responsibilities. I felt as though I held my breath the entire time he was gone.
The family friend, a lieutenant in the Navy, was deployed in the South China Sea for six months last year, missing birthdays, holidays, spring, summer and part of fall. He continues in his service to our country.

If they had not been in uniform they would have been part of that vast group of citizens who served or are serving without being noticed. I think there are more around us then we know. The woman manning the books where I voted on Tuesday told me she was a vet. I would have never known or been to thank her for her service. It made me think of one grave marker in France.
The unknown soldier.
Some unknown soldiers have monuments. Some are long gone and are part of history because of where and when they fought.
Some walk among us. All stand between us and our nation’s security.
Today, keep all veterans and those who currently serve in our armed forces in your prayers.