9 years ago today I sat in the living room in a cabin in Grand Lake, Colorado with co-workers waiting for breakfast to begin when someone came in and told us the World Trade Center had just been attacked. We were out of cell phone range for the most part, had one “common area phone” and no TV. We sat gathered around a radio desperate for information, feeling like we were thousands of miles away from civilization and our loved ones.
I don’t ever want to relive that experience, but in some ways, I can’t imagine a better place to be when news like that hits. We spent most of the day gathered around radios or TVs in local bars watching news coverage and discussing world politics. We gathered together as a family on “the point” at Shadowcliff, prayed for peace and wisdom of decision-makers, and offered up moments of silence and prayers for those lost in the tragedy.
We left Grand Lake early that year and drove through the night to get back to our homes in Kansas City, glued to NPR to have any access to information. I spent the entire next day watching news coverage at home before heading to the bluegrass festival in Winfield, Kansas. I wasn’t in the mood to celebrate, but I knew I needed to be home.
That was one of the worst, and one of the best festivals I have ever been to. I still get teary-eyed thinking about it. There was a palpable feeling of community in the air that I had never before, and never since, experienced.
One of my favorite moments came at the close of the Saturday afternoon set by Tom Chapin and John McCutcheon. I’ve always loved this song, but after the events of the last 9 years, it has a deeper meaning for me than I ever thought. (I looked for video of the actual performance, but couldn’t find it. John McCutcheon performing it on his own will have to suffice).