Amidst the Tears
Amidst the tears of fear, horror and anger are those that bathe us with healing warmth. Last Friday, September 14, Seattle officials designated the International Fountain at the Seattle Center as the location for a memorial service for our lost brothers and sisters. The service was to last three hours and people were invited to place flowers around the fountain.
At 10 am Seattle residents began to arrive to place bouquets. They stood, like others around the country, in silent rememberance, some with tears streaming, some in silent prayer. American flags dotted the scene, placed among a bouquet, carried by a child, worn on a hat or shirt and even wrapped snugly around one's body like a cloak of protection.
At 6pm Friday evening, the memorial continued. The bouquets had grown in their circumferance around the fountain. Several blocks away, a small group of people began a candle vigil, placing votifs in the ledges of a brick wall. The initial group had planned 100 candles.
At 10pm Friday night, the memorial at the Seattle Center was still growing and the brick wall had placed on it 5000 candles...one for each lost soul. Hundreds of people stood and felt the warmth of the flames, and each other, replacing a dwindling flame as needed.
Saturday morning, the candles had burned out, but the bouquets continued to grow at the fountain. Officials decided to continue the memorial through the weekend. A group of middle eastern people, dressed in turbans in red, white and blue and carrying American flags moved through the crowd in a group to place bouquets and join the mourners. One was carressed on his arm by a woman carrying a bouquet. He responded to her with a smile and tears.
By Sunday evening, 75,000 people had visited and the concrete surrounding the fountain in the Seattle Center was covered in thousands of bouquets, flags, candles, teddy bears and notes of condolence and love. Policemen and firemen streamed through to pay tribute. They covered their engines with the bouquets. One officer said they planned to send all of the notes with money that had been donated to New York.
Sunday, the evolution of the memorial service culminated in a decision to have a closing ceremony Monday morning in which over a thousand people would march into the center, pick up a bouquet and march with the rest of the group to a special place where the bouquets would be turned into mulch. This mulch will be placed in a special garden that will be used to grow the flowers for the memorial service on the same date at the same place next year.
As I cry with those who are so lost, wandering the streets of New York with remnants of hope pushing them forward, I see what has happened to our human spirit. It has blossomed into overwhelming compassion for one another. Tolerance pervades the highways, department stores, business offices. Candle vigils have popped up all over the country. Kindness has replaced impatience. and Love struggles to win the battle over fear.
It is said that this enemy that so wounded America is insidious and unknown. It is known. It is hate. Americans will win this battle. It is demonstrated in the primary tool held by all and used fervently at present...demonstrations of Love for one another.
Look up. You'll see it and be comforted.
Cheryl Nicholas is a registered nurse, freelance author and editor. She has a Bachelor's of Science from Southeastern Louisiana University and majored in psychiatric social work at the University of Washington. She lives in a town nestled in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains in Western Washington. She writes nonfiction essays and stories depicting life's challenges as opportunities for growth.