I interrupt my reminiscences on the last days of Vietnam to tell of my attendance yesterday at two commemorations of 9/11.
The first was at noon in Columbia, Maryland, where I live. I was there because my American Legion post was participating in the ceremony. It was held in a parking lot that had been cleared. At the back were two fire trucks with long extension ladders parked back to back and suspending between them a huge American flag, at least eight feet in length, some forty feet above the ground. As we stood at attention, a band of bagpipers in kilts and an honor guard with flags marched forward to the accompaniment of patriotic songs. When they were in place, we listened to the national anthem sung by a baritone, recited the pledge of allegiance, and heard a brief speech on the importance of commemorating 9/11.
The second was two hours later at the Encore rehab facility in Ellicott City. I was there to visit my friend who is recovering from at attack of vascular dementia. This time the ceremony took place indoors in the vestibule. It consisted of a brief speech by a woman who passed around photos of the memorials built at each of the 9/11 attack sites. All the attendees were recovering patients in wheelchairs who encircled the speaker.
Both ceremonies brought tears to my eyes. At a time of the worst political disruption I can recall, when the country is more divided than at any time in my life, public moments of patriotism move me more deeply than they ever have before.