Saturday, September 24, 2011


If you look closely, it's red, white and blue.
It wasn't an intentional oversight, and when it dawned on me that I was spending the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks fly fishing for native brook trout instead of honoring those who did nothing more insidious than show up for work that awful day a decade ago, I felt a little guilty.

I even drove right by the Pentagon on my way out of town and didn't give the date a second thought, or the giant concrete behemoth off to the left a second glance. I had brookies on the brain.

I was to meet up with one of my best friends in the world and boulder-hop along storied Appalachian waters in search of late-summer brook trout in the waters in which they belong. But it hit me as I got out on the freeway and turned on the radio. The haunting din of bagpipes coming over the airwaves washed through the rental car as NPR broadcast the memorial service live from Ground Zero in New York. Moments later, "Taps" played, and my eyes watered up.

And as I exercised the freedom so many have sacrificed so much to achieve, and drove a few miles per hour over the speed limit on my way to a Sunday fly fishing trip–because I wanted to go fishing, and because I could–I said a quiet little prayer in my head for all those still dealing the senseless loss inflicted upon our country 10 years ago. I reminded myself that it was that freedom, that liberty, that made us so vulnerable to those who are blinded by hate and fueled by uber-religious despots with evil agendas.

And, 10 years after the attack, and in the midst of the most divisive political atmosphere I can remember, we were all Americans again. Some of use were mourning next to the places where the zealots found us vulnerable one sunny September day and others were simply busy being the Americans we've always been. In our own way, we were honoring those who died without cause and showing the rest of the world that our way of life isn't something they can change with a few hijacked passenger jets.

And, later, as I cast to rising brookies and plucked the gorgeous fish from the cold, clean waters of Shenandoah National Park, I remembered again that fateful day a decade ago, and was thankful that those attacks didn't alter our lives enough to keep me and my friend from the water on this particular day, or to keep those in such pain from being at the sites of the attacks a decade later.

The unity, unfortunately, proved short-lived, but in today's heated, partisan environment, I'll take the day.

God bless those who died on Sept. 11, 2001. I didn't forget. And I never will.


  1. Never to late for a great "Statement", Chris! Well done.

  2. The tenth anniversary of 9/11 left me without words. Thankfully, you've found the ones that I, and I expect many others, felt, but could not speak. Thanks.

  3. Thanks for writing this. I tried to write something to remember my cousin but couldn't. I couldn't imagine honoring the fallen in any better way than enjoying one of the freedoms we are afforded living in such a great country.

    I did post something my cousin Doug wrote about the day bin laden died, which seemed fitting...check it out