A 9/11 Remembrance: Thank you, Jonesport, Maine

This is a belated, yet well-deserved thank you letter that I sent recently to the wonderful people in Jonesport, Maine.  I remember Jonesport on every 9/11 anniversary.

Dear Residents of Jonesport,

You do not know me, nor have I met any of you as individuals, but you played such a huge part in my healing after the 9/11 attacks that I thought I should let you know.

I have been meaning to write to you since that time but was not sure how to go about it.  Then, a new-found friend and I were talking (we live in Ipswich, Massachusetts) and the conversation turned to Jonesport.

Sharon Josephson is associated with your Historical Society.  I told her what Jonesport meant to me, and she offered to deliver this thank you note.  Serendipity?  Perhaps.

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, my day was like many other people’s.  When a co-worker told me of the first plane crash into the Twin Towers, I thought it to be some rogue Cessna and was sorry for the pilot and crew, but never thought that the building would be damaged.

When another coworker told me of the second plane crash, I stared at him and said, “This is war.”  Stunned, he agreed.

I was due to leave the upcoming weekend on a 10-day vacation at Bar Harbor with a friend.  The days leading up to our departure were full of grief for what had happened to our country as well as the usual madness at work that precedes a vacation.

While the vacation would not be a joyful one in the context of recent events, it would provide a respite and a time to calm down and reflect while hiking and biking–outdoor activities that I have always found to be so fulfilling.

As soon as the flurry of preparation activity ceased and we were on the road north, I became numb.

I felt that my whole being, my spirit, my personality, became flat.  I felt detached from everything.  I gained no comfort from the sky blue days of early fall, no comfort from conversation, and none from the outdoor activity which normally gave me release.

As each day went by, I wondered when I would feel something again.

The following week my friend took me to Great Wass Island, thinking that the beauty of a hike there would comfort me.  It did not.

We then drove onto Main Street in Jonesport and it was then that I healed.

You took my breath away while at the same time breathing new life into me.  American flags were hung everywhere, on nearly every building, if not every one of them.  Your Main Street is indeed a beautiful place, but the flags were raised there with thoughtfulness and a silent recognition of what our country had been through.   

I hung my head out the car window, taking in your town.  I wanted to reach out and hug you.

My feelings, my soul, my very being came back to me.  In a town I did not know of until that very minute, I felt commitment and belongingness and love from the multitude of American flags that were hung as a reaction to a nation’s grief.

I cried–but the tears were not of grief. They were of gratitude.  You brought me back to the living.

I appreciate that for many people, the annual recognition of the events of that day are solemn ones often with the reading of the names of the loved ones lost.

My recognition of that day, however, takes me back to your town.  I see it so clearly, with the American red, white, and blue flying all along your Main Street on a gorgeous September day and I think of healing and comfort and how you did that for me.

With Love,

Debbie Todd

Ipswich, Massachusetts

June 16, 2017

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