Our family has gone to the White Mountains of Arizona for almost thirty years, taking our two small children strapped into the saddle in front of us up rocky mountains, into canyons, across meadows strewn with wild flowers such as purple penstemon, yellow Mexican hat, spirals of “cowboy toilet paper.” It’s been a respite for us from the crazy rest of the world, but in 2001, not long after we returned to the traffic and noise of L.A, the twin towers of the World Trade Center  in New York were hit by two hi-jacked airplanes.  In Washington D.C, the Pentagon took another hit, and somewhere in the green fields of Pennsylvania, passengers overtook the terrorists whose target was most likely the Capitol or the White House and died in the fiery crash that resulted from their bravery.

We have never been the same.  
Yet every summer, we’ve packed up our truck and headed east across the desert to the ranch and found the monsoons helped to heal, the cool evenings, balm to our souls.  As individuals, we were lucky to have such a sanctuary, as Americans we had thousands to mourn. 
We met dozens of people over the years at the ranch, strangers on Sunday night, boon companions by week’s end.  For us, seeing Marty and George Rozelle when we drove up the dusty road and parked our car by the main house, was always a delightful surprise because returning guests didn’t always return the same week. When they did, it was sweetness to enjoy each day of the week. These two, George with his booming sense of humor, his intelligence, his kindness, and Marty who matches him point for point, added so much to our annual visits, they became family too.  
George passed away in 2008, but he left so much of himself behind.  Last night, to honor the losses we have all suffered as individuals, as friends and families, and as a nation, Marty sent out a poem George wrote in the aftermath of 9/11. With her permission,  I’m sharing it with you.

They hit us hard and at home
Lives were lost and buildings destroyed
Smoke, debris, vivid pictures saturated our senses
Shock, fear and anger filled our hearts and minds
And then,
Public servants and people from all walks of life
Performed heroic acts
Rescue and recovery efforts produced
Both miracles and anguish
And then,
We came together as a nation
Reflecting on our lives and values
Families grew stronger
Strangers became friends
And then,
Time passed and old habits returned
Compassion, concern, courtesy, civility
Slowly gave way and once again
Us became me, we became I
And then,
It is now
As we stop to remember and seek meaning
Let us re-dedicate ourselves to
Being a nation of caring, considerate individuals
And then,
We will truly honor the memory of those lost.

George F. Rozelle 

September 11, 2002

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