As I’m driving my truck across Canada and the USA, I think my time away
I go throughout many states, to a different town, a different day
I try to see as much of our countries history as I can
To stand upon a treasured spot and touch it with my hand
Each place has its own tale to tell, sites that see no more
Be it a piece of heaven or of hell, of glory or of lore
Some places affect me deep inside my heart and make me very proud
Others still haunt my dreams, and I can hear lost souls aloud
There are a lot of places I’ve been to in my life that most folks will never see
But none have affected me as much as the Crash Site of Flight 93.
It’s outside the town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania in a grassy field.
There was cow’s still grazing there at that time.
When I got there I was the only “living” soul.
I didn’t see another “living” soul.
Did I see other souls?
I couldn’t see them, but I knew they were there.
It was breaking dawn right then, the sun was rising over the tree’s on a slight hill to my left.
I can honestly admit I was scared, apprehensive.
I don’t know why, now that I think about it.
Maybe because I knew that people had died a most horrible death here in this quiet place.
I walked out into the field, looking at my feet as I drug them through the dew on the grass.
Then I stopped…and looked up, thinking.
Do you want to know what I did then?
I don’t know what prompted me to do it, but I sat down in the wet grass and took off my shoes and socks.
There were no signs to say so…
I left my shoes there…neatly sitting side by side, my socks tucked inside them.
I was on sacred ground.
Then for some other reason…I took my camera from around my neck and gently placed it on top of my shoes.
There were no signs saying “No Pictures please”
You can’t take pictures in a graveyard. You might trap a soul….
I didn’t want to make any noise. It was already WAY too quiet.
I saw no birds…or heard them singing.
Birds can’t sing sad songs….
I stood up and started walking toward the place that would later be marked with a plaque, telling of how 44 humans perished in the worst imaginable way.
When I got to the spot my heart told me to stop at, I got down on my knees. The bulldozer tracks were still visible on the scarred earth where hate
fell from heaven that day…
That day…when we all changed into frightened people.
I stayed upright on my knees for a few minutes…looking at the sky, the clouds, trying to picture a plane falling.
I couldn’t imagine it…
I don’t think any of us can really…not then.
I knelt over and placed my palms on the earth.
She was still trembling…or was it me?
I’d like to believe it was both of us….sharing our grief.
I thought of the day it all happened.
That terrible dream of sitting there in front of a TV at my neighbor’s house, watching a plane crash into a building…
Over and over again the planes crashed.
People were also flying…and they crashed too.
My elderly neighbor whispered “All those poor people…” I reached over and grabbed her hand.
We watched people die…
We held hands and cried for the innocence that also died that day.
I was crying now…
I could see the tears dropping onto the backs of my hands and in between my fingers, speckling the dirt…
”All those poor people…”
I could still hear her wavering voice.
How many terrible things had this aged woman seen in her time?
More than she wanted I’m afraid. More than enough…
I dug my fingers into the scarred earth and cried harder.
I didn’t worry about the couple that walked up behind me.
I wasn’t embarrassed by spilling my heart onto the earth.
I think back now…My eye diamonds were mixing with innocent blood.
I rose back up onto my knees, some sacred dirt clenched in my hand.
The scarred earth was going with me.
I would take the earth across America, and when I got to San Francisco I would hold my hand out the window of my truck and let the earth wisp away…
It was a promise…
“You finally made it” I’d say as the dirt flew through my fingers into the wind.
That plan popped into my head as I turned to look at the couple beside me.
I looked at them and said “Sorry, just a little….” My voice died.
They were an elderly couple. They were holding hands. They were crying.
They had on no shoes.
I turned my face from them in respect for their grief.
I saw other people walking from cars along the roadside, coming to the spot my heart told me was the place.
They were all barefoot.
There was a pile of shoes and a pile of cameras neatly lined up near my own.
There were no signs asking us to take off our shoes.
There were no signs asking us not to take pictures.
We just knew…this is not the place to trap souls.
We all just knelt, stood, held hands and cried…together.
Another man…his wife’s head on his shoulder, began to sing “The Old Rugged Cross”
No one joined in the song.
We just listened, our grief had texture now.
I’m standing on the Golden Gate Bridge.
There’s no traffic.
It’s an early Sunday morning.
I let the wind blow the earth from my hand.
“Thanks for the lift” the wind said.