Endless honking of horns today… not that I mind. Every year, since 2002, people here assemble on the overpasses above I-94 on both the MN and WI sides of the river, facing one another, although they’re too far apart ot be seen. They all hang their commemorative banners and, for 24 hours, the color guards in both states wave american flags over the highway, in memory of the lives lost on 9.11 and the courageous American spirit which followed it.
It has grown in the past decade. Dozens, even hundreds show up at all hours, to take their shift – celebrities among them – to wave flags, hold banners and bear witness as they send a gentle, Midwest reminder to the motorists below: “This is who we are”. Entire Fire and Police Departments roll by below in formation, lights ablaze, to pay homage to this memorial which exists only in our hearts. Motorcycle and car clubs queue up to make their pass through this gauntlet of liberty.
It’s but one small tradition in one small town in middle America: that none may be forgotten and that all may band together toward a brighter future. But then, that’s the spirit that built this nation.
Some of my favorite moments come far from the fanfare of the day – from the wee hours of the morning – when there are scant few vehicles passing by; when the media is gone and the horns aren’t honking and there is no notoriety to be had; when solitary citizens stand and wave their flags in silence, staring off into the darkness toward their unseen compatriots across the valley, for nothing but love of their country and all those who call it home.
These are my people.