The victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 are honored each year in our city. The Healing Field tribute of nearly 3000 flags is at a park in downtown Tempe, Arizona. The flag poles are six feet tall and spread over two acres on a grassy field near our lake. It is a heart breaking experience to see America’s red, white and blue flags with gold stars waving in a gentle breeze, and once again feel the grief of that horrific day. The tribute will be from September 10-13.
Each flag has a tag with the name of the person killed. A pair of combat boots rests underneath the flag poles of the ones who were members of the military. There are stuffed animals tucked beneath the flags of the children lost.
Last year my husband and I, along with others, meandered through the flags and stopped to read some of the names. We wondered, were they a father, a mother, an executive, a pilot, a waitress or a firefighter? We knew each one had left behind family and friends who still mourn their deaths and remember them with a love that will never die.
I heard the giggles of a toddler, and watched as she whirled around in her pretty dress among the flags. Her parents were pushing a baby in a stroller. This young family was a symbol of new life: the Healing Field became, for me, a Loving Field. In spite of the
9-1-1 tragedy, all Americans are free to love and live…a love which overcomes grief and brings hope for the future that I felt in the joy of a little girl’s laughter.
People Magazine did a feature article on the babies born after 9-1-1 to the grief-stricken widows of the men who died in the Twin Towers and passenger jets. The photos showed adorable infants, enjoying their gift of life, cuddled in their mother’s arms. The journalists wrote about the preparations they made for the photo op, purchasing diapers, wipes, pacifiers, blankets, bottles and formula…all so everything could be perfect for this moment in time. In spite of the horrific deaths of their fathers, new life was born to carry on the legacy of America’s freedom.
I saw a young man, dressed in camouflage, stand at attention and salute. His silent military tribute moved me to tears. The sound of the flags whipping in the breeze reminded me of the voices of our service men and women echoing across the land, “I died so you could stay strong and live in freedom.”
My husband, John, and I embraced, and with my head tucked under his chin, we prayed. For us the Healing Field was also a Praying Field. We prayed for all Americans, especially for those whose loss on 9-1-1 no words can describe. We are both in our 70s and we have proven that God’s care is there when we’ve struggled through personal tragedies…His love never let go of us. For our family, it’s true what the scripture says in Psalms 34:18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted…” (NIV).
All across America people will gather in unity on September 11, 2015 to remember the victims, to heal, love and pray. My husband and I will be there once again at the Healing Field in Tempe to honor the victims and their families and friends.
I would love to hear from you and what you do to remember 9-1-1.