W. H. Auden called the mid-twentieth century The Age of Anxiety. It was the title of a book-length epic poem that won him a 1948 Pulitzer Prize, and it depicted his perception of the loneliness and isolation of the mid-twentieth century. (I have not read it.)
Auden set it in a bar in New York City. (He actually immigrated there in 1939; many casual poetry readers are unaware that he had dual citizenship with Britain and America.)
I wonder what Auden would think of the early 21st Century, here at his adopted home. I t started with the September 11 terror attacks and has arrived at a pandemic that has killed 443,000 Americans (along with nearly 94,000 back in his native Britain). Evictions and unemployment have predictably risen right along with the deaths.
And America seems the closest now to civil war since … the actual Civil War began in 1861. (We did, after all, see one side storm the Capitol to attack its democratically elected government.)
I’ll bet our anxiety could give Auden’s a run for its money.
9/11 memorial flag to firefighters and police killed, across from FDNY Ladder 10.
User:Aude [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D
Between the towers of the World Trade Center as a cloud passes between them. November 1998.
By Flickr user Beija (https://www.flickr.com/photos/beija/243997357) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.
Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.
— excerpt from W.H. Auden’s “September 1, 1939”
Please call your representatives in Congress to support urgently needed medical care for 9/11 First Responders. Congress will vote this week on whether or not to extend the James Zadroga Act, which supports potentially lifesaving care for police, fire & rescue, and recovery workers at the site of the World Trade Center attack.
It’s quick and easy. Just dial the Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121, and they can connect you with your Representative and both of your Senators.
Or, you find the numbers for your Representative here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
and both of your Senators here: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?OrderBy=state&Sort=ASC .
For more information on the efforts of First Responders to ask Congress to support this critically needed law, click here for a message from First Responder John Feal:
Again, I am especially hoping that my fellow New Yorkers will take the time to do this. On September 11, 2001, these men and women were there for us. Now it is our turn to be there for them.
PLEASE sign this quick and easy online petition in support of extending the James Zadroga Act, which will continue to provide lifesaving medical care to 9/11 First Responders. The act is named for NYPD Officer James Zadroga, who died in 2006 due to his exposure to toxic chemicals during his rescue efforts at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He was the first police officer whose death was attributed to an illness resulting from the rescue efforts.
The link below will take you directly to a change.org petition to ask Congress to extend the act, and you can read a personal appeal by John Feal, a United States Army Veteran who was himself a First Responder.
I am reaching out in particular to all of my fellow New Yorkers. Signing this petition took me less than four seconds. If we all sign and then share this link, it will be the very least that we can do to help the bravest and best of New Yorkers, who now, in turn, need our help.
Please share this petition as well, and talk to your family and friends about this. Again, this really is the very least that we can do.
“Tell Congress We Will Never Forget 9/11 First Responders”
You can also learn more about the efforts of First Responders to seek the care that they deserve right here:
If you are reading this now, then you are likely to head to bed soon for the night, safely.
If you are like many today, then you might have said a prayer, or a few words of thanks, for the soldiers, the police, the firemen, and the emergency professionals who have made such safety possible.
You and I will retire to sleep tonight without event. We will awaken in a free state tomorrow. These are rarer things than we often realize, in a frequently ugly world, where despots threaten and madmen make red pageantry in our skylines and in our saddest inner moments. But tonight we sleep peacefully thanks to the ardor of the brave.
Indeed, we WILL never forget.
To all of the especially good men and women whose job it is to keep us safe, often at the highest risk to themselves:
Good luck, Godspeed, and thank you for your service.