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To the Icons of the Hour, a Poem by L. R. Laverde-Hansen

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

All images courtesy of author.
Survivor Tree – 9/11 Memorial.


Some years have come and gone—perhaps these years It takes for root to take that this might live: A small tribute to these amazing ones; The men and women of the harried moment— The icons of the hour— The heroes who will always have our hearts For what they did in saving life and soul. Though memory concedes its truth to fact, And others only learn things second hand; We who survived and witnessed must relate How some gave love in blood for others' sake And shone their light on darkest, foulest date.


These less than perfect words make up a sign,

Some means to indicate a gracious praise.

As we devote a sympathy to they

Who fell as victims in the attacks that day

And will remember how deep their price,

Let all the Muses, Angels, and the Spirit sing

Of bravest sacrifice and duty served.

Not for close families or old friends they came,

But for strangers who needed hands of hope

And so received another chance at life.


6:00 AM New York, September Eleventh—dawn came Like any other, nothing strange in that. The sky was blue, serene—the sun was strong; The people rose with it, an eager throng; The life of a city is the life of its work, And so commenced another day of trade. The teeming streets belied the rage to come, For at this time some men began their plots, All set to board some airplanes in the East With vile intent to make them instruments of death.

IV Their goal, so basic in its wickedness,

Was not the masterwork of rival states

Nor some spontaneous fanaticism,

But rather a cold-blooded feat of hate,

Requiring years to plan and execute.

Led by an evil one, disguised in robes of peace,

Fueled by a rising spite, which knew no mercy;

And fashioned by a master murderer,

Who justified such thorough slaughter

As yet another act of holy war.

V From Boston, Newark, and Washington DC* Flew nineteen killers set for infamy.* Onboard four airplanes at different times Four teams of five—or four—attackers armed With knives, surprise, and threats of bombs; No shame they had but readiness for ill. First lunged the muscle men to seize the planes And with the cockpits taken, out came their plan. Their pilots of doom sat down to change the route And aim the planes towards humanity’s heart.


Before that moment of finality, But after the initial thought was born; There stands a telling space of disbelief, As if the very thought which brought this being Were itself but a shadow in a dream. Yet here is where the meaning meets the truth; Where all that’s been prepared presents its worth: Whether as a sign of humanity Or as more evidence of savagery, From here on all becomes inevitable.

Reflecting pool, 9/11 Memorial.


We are flying way too low. Oh my God, we are way too low.” ¹

8:46 AM

American Airlines Flight 11 crashed first. It slammed the North Tower, like a giant’s blade That sent a ball of fire, smoke, and devastation Right down the building’s side and beyond. It challenged all sense of what is war, With hundreds dead not from armies nor from weapons, But peaceful means perverted on that day. The world would watch these horrors like a show. But worse than anything most could imagine: Here were the opening scenes, more would ensue.


We had to try and rescue them.”*

So said the Fire Chief, and others felt the same. Even in the total confusion, When everything the City knew was gone. In spite of this, the heroes rushed to help. They came, not knowing if they could save a soul Or keep their own, yet they had to be there. They had to try and do something. Here began the story of thousands saved: Where police, firefighters, and emergency personnel, Along with countless voluntary saviors United in unbelievable courage.


And so started the exodus below the crash.

At first with calmness, then a growing urgency,

The workers went down those stairs, helped by leaders.

In general order they descended, as right outside

And all around the mangled steel, growing smoke and falling debris

Signaled that things were getting desperate fast.

Not everyone would be rescued that day.

Above the impact zone, the fire kept on swallowing,

Bringing heat and sucking air from everywhere.