Today's Topic



Two Years
After the Attack

Natalia J. Garland

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September, 2003, brings us to the second anniversary of the attacks on America. I will not approach this topic politically, but will attempt to put some feelings into perspective. Most of us have probably moved beyond the overwhelming feelings of shock and grief. Let us go back and reconstruct, from a two-year vantage point, what we were experiencing on September 11, 2001.

Shortly after the attacks on our country, I received a letter from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The letter is an expression of comfort and solidarity. I also received similar letters from other organizations with which I am affiliated. People seemed to feel the need to reach out and draw one another together through the written word. Letters seem to connote official commitment. They are documents that can be referred to for verification. I kept these letters because, perhaps like the senders, I needed to feel a sense of belonging and togetherness. The letter I received from the Metropolitan Museum (located in New York City) was especially eloquent, and I would like to share it with you. It is dated September 20, 2001.

Dear Members and Friends,

In this extraordinarily difficult and painful time for our city and our country, we would like to express our heartfelt concern to you.

First, to those among you who have lost family or friends in the recent tragedy, the entire staff and Board of Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum extend our condolences and support.

The Metropolitan's fundamental mission has always been and will continue to be to celebrate the very highest achievements of humankind, and to provide for the public an enduring place of beauty, strength, and hope. Over our 131-year history, the Museum has offered many generations of Americans inspiration, even in the gravest of crises. We hope that you, too, will look to the Metropolitan for the spirit of renewal so essential to our municipal and national recovery.

The role of institutions such as ours, as places of continuity, permanence, reflection, and advancement, becomes ever more important in such times of tragedy. We are proud to provide to all our visitors from around the world a positive experience that nourishes the human spirit. As members of the Met family, we know you share this sentiment.

To enlighten, inspire, awe, and ultimately, to help heal--that is our responsibility and the essence of our work. By remaining committed to this goal, the Metropolitan Museum will continue to be a testament to the indomitable spirit of our nation, and of humankind.

We thank you for your continued dedication to these efforts.
[End of letter.]

The letter is signed by Philippe de Montebello, Director, and by David E. McKinney, President.

Obviously, I continue to appreciate the gift of time and reflection that it took to write and mail the above letter. On a deeper level, I continue to appreciate living in a country where we are still free to express our feelings and opinions, and free to disagree with and learn from one another. The freedom of self-expression enables us to comfort, to be creative, and to journey toward a meaningful future a day at a time. (Written 09/01/03)

Until we meet again..............stay sane.

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Copyright 2003 Natalia J. Garland