As a writer, inspiration can come in many different forms at many different times. Case in point, when I started research for my latest book The Great Boat Race, over two years ago, I knew what I wanted the story to be about, but it was missing a soul. It wasn’t till I was watching a completely different documentary, that I heard a pome, and I knew right away, that it needed to be at the core of this book. It was the pome No Man Is An Island - by John Donne. It is a compelling and moving piece, describing how we are all interconnected, that no man can live their lives, without being affected by or affecting the lives of others.
I drew upon that idea during the writing of The Great Boat Race, as I tried to show the overall affects that war has upon us all. Both those at the front line as well as those far removed. I wanted to show, that a loss of life can be felt, not only across the field of battle, but across generations. A concept that seems to be personified by tomorrows date, and the events that took place on that heartbreaking day in September. Tomorrow is September 11th, marking sixteen years since the attack upon the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon as well as the bravery of those aboard Flight 93. On that day we, as a nation lost just under 3,000 people, but as a whole, we lost our since of invincibility. If you can remember that day, as most of us do, I’m sure you remember the since of loss, confusion and sadness. I remember distinctly watching the TV for hours, as it continued live reports, and as new information would be discovered. As they began to interview survivors and family members who were missing loved ones, my heart ached for each of them. I truly felt like a part of me had died. There was a man, a father, who's 20 something year old daughter worked in the Twin Towers. He stood in front of the camera, and with tears in his eyes, he begged for her to call him if she was okay. He mentioned how she would always laugh, and how he would give anything to hear that laugh one more time. As a father myself, at that time my oldest was one years old and my second was just a few months old. I could only imagine the pain felt at such an immense loss. Just last year I was watching a new documentary about 9/11 and they found the man, and interviewed him. Unfortunately, he never heard his daughter laugh again. She would be listed amongst the thousands of other victims lost in the Towers.
It was the emotions of that day and the day’s that followed, that I drew upon when I tried to visualize the loss of so many. It’s easy to forget about others, to get caught up in our own lives, and narrow everything down to just the screen on our smart phone. However, if we forget the sacrifice of others, both grand and small, if we do not see others in pain and reach out to help, then we have already lost. In the past week or so, our nation has been hit hard by major storms, and I am proud to see so many willing to help. We, as a nation, need to stop worrying about our Selfies and start worrying about our neighbors. There are forces, both man made as well as natural, that are trying to tear us apart. We need to stand tall against the winds of our advisory, we must be united. Let us not forget, those who still fight for us, in foreign lands, as well as those who stand ready here upon our home land. The poem, No Man Is an Island, closes by saying, “Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.” Let us all remember, that we are all connected. The loss of one united soul is a loss to us all.