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‘How could this happen in the land of the free?’: A 9/11 poem

Reflecting on September 11, years after the tragedy that took so many first responders’ lives


In this Sept. 11, 2001, file photo, firefighters work beneath the destroyed mullions, the vertical struts that once faced the outer walls of the World Trade Center towers, after a terrorist attack on the twin towers in New York.

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File

By Barbara Elaina

On that bright morning of September 11, 2001,
The day had started normal, like every other one,
Little did we know by day’s end,
We would lose family and friends.

How could this happen in the land of the free,
Attacking our nation who could this be,
As the tears run from our eyes,
We look up to the heavens and ask why,

Our hearts heavy with grief and sorrow,
Not knowing if we can make it til tomorrow,
Strangers hugging and crying, how it hurt my heart,
To know the families this has torn apart.

The ones we love, gone or missing,
Let this be a dream we are wishing,
To watch the flag fly and hear the song,
We cry for those who have gone.

It is heaven we know they are in,
Just a matter of time before we meet again,
Military, Reserves, and civilians waiting for the call,
Never before have I seen this nation stand so tall.

All races coming together as one,
Never before like anything we’ve done,
Showing these bastards a little American pride,
There will be no place for them to hide.

To see the red, white, and blue waving in the wind,
Knowing that freedom will always win,
So America stand tall and be proud,
Singing “God Bless America” ever so loud.

About the Author

Barbara Elaina is a lifelong New York City resident who grew up in Brooklyn and now lives on Staten Island. She wrote this poem in honor of her numerous family members who are members of the FDNY and NYPD.