WHEN THE SKIES FELL SILENT
By James Donnelly
© 2001, Anthony James Donnelly
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Author's Note: Please find below a proposed tribute book for the victims of September 11th.
This follows the format of my previous books When the Trees Held Their Breath
(ISBN# 0970205236), and When the Rainbow Smiled (to be published in 2002). My
idea is to accompany the short paragraphs of text (separated by a free line)
with illustrations from school children in America:
"Without freedom, there is no choice.
Without choice, there is no democracy.
Without democracy... there can be no peace."
It was an ordinary morning.
An ordinary morning when the birds sang their anthem, as the moon skulked
into the shadows. The sun rose to sit upon her dawn throne and smile upon the
The animals of the night went to sleep. The animals of the day stretched and
Like every other morning, children were sent off to school, and parents
prepared themselves for another day of work.
And there, above the New York horizon, just like every other morning, stood
the Twins, like brother and sister rubbing shoulders with the sky.
But, this was to be a morning like no other...
The free Republic was alive with activity.
Heads and eyes down. Minds focused.
No time for idle distractions, there was work to be done.
Neighbors continued to ignore neighbors, just like previous mornings. Workers
rubbed shoulders, oblivious.
So caught up in the machine of life, nobody thought to stop and look.
And then it happened...
As if from nowhere, the skies exploded with pain. A deafening boom of terror
chilled the city air.
"What was that?" The people asked. "An explosion? A gas leak? A car
An eerie shadow crossed the sky, like a black cat, and they looked up.
One of the Twins was screaming with fire and coughing smoke.
They stared in disbelief. "What had happened?"
The people looked on agasp, as rescue workers rallied to save the Twin. The
smoke and flames from the tower bled with the sirens and screams. Fire
trucks, ambulances and rescue teams rushed to the scene. Nobody really
understood what was happening.
"A plane accident?" Some asked in disbelief.
As the emergency services and rescue teams heroically helped the victims of
the Twin, another shadow plunged from above. A second steely bird bombed from
the sky, cutting into the second Twin, as if it were butter.
The Twin exploded in a fiery ball of stinging terror. Flames ate the body of
the tower, like hungry mouths. Oppressive clouds of smoke eclipsed the sun.
Like stunned sheep, the people fled in terror.
Beyond the noise of the city, the impossible news ripped like silent
chainsaws through the Republic. As if the world had stopped, the people tried
"The World Trade Center... AND The Pentagon... AND... This cannot be!" The
The Republic tried to awaken from this nightmare. But the Twins continued to
bleed smoke and flames.
This was no dream.
The shadows had struck the very heart of the Republic. A terrorist act
stabbing at freedom like a rusty knife.
Emergency agencies rushed to the attack scenes.
All flights were grounded.
The Nation was put on highest alert.
And, as the Twins of Democracy tumbled, the skies fell silent...
No vapor trails crisscrossed the clouds.
No roaring jet engines tore up the skies.
Like a terrible early fall of winter snow, the whole Republic fell silent.
Even the innocent children's laughter was blanketed by the evil shadow. Even
the birds were quiet and the wind held its breath in hushed expectation. It
was eerily quiet, like the world had been dipped into a bucket of ice.
The news blazed around the world as the media tried to come to terms with
these acts of terror.
"The once "untouchable" Republic had been attacked?" The world asked. "Who
would dare such a thing?"
Yet, somewhere in the world nations rejoiced.
As Democracy's flag burned in far off lands, a wave of red, white and blue
swept the Republic.
Flags appeared on houses, bridges and cars. A sign of a unified Republic. A
Republic unafraid of the cowardly shadows of terror.
Night fell with no relief.
Heroes battled on beneath the plumes of Phoenix's bed, in a desperate race to
The casualties were high.
Fueled by grief and patriotic blood, they worked on, stopping only to shed a
tear at the great loss.
Behind closed doors, the powers of the Republic held council.
This had been an act of war.
But by whom?
They knew. Everybody knew. It was the shadows of terror. Cowards with only a
face of shame.
This wasn't about oil, or money, or power. This wasn't just about race, or
religion, or land any more.
This was about Democracy and the right of man to be free!
The following morning, the sun curtsied over the Republic as she sat upon her
The birds sang at half-mast.
The animals were solemn.
Even the sun could not warm the people of the Republic.
Theirs hearts were reeling with a tornado of sorrow, hatred and loss. A loss
as large as the gaping void in the New York skyline.
A void filling with anger and revenge.
This morning, though, rather than faceless neighbors and silent trains,
something else happened.
Strangers shared each others loss with a friendly hug.
As one heart combined, the people of the city shared the loss of the Twins
and their loved ones.
The Republic was uniting under a flag of freedom and love.
Through sleepless nights, a coalition against terrorism was formed. A
democratic boot of unity to stomp upon the enemies of freedom. The shadows
would have no cracks or rocks to hide beneath.
A united force for peace was formed.
Days and weeks passed, but the people wanted action.
They had given blood.
They had given aid.
Many had given their lives.
The world watched and waited to see what the Republic would do, as the
alliance strengthened and planned.
As the sun shone on the twenty-sixth day, the rage of the alliance rocketed
down on the shadows.
Another war, a war against terrorism, had begun.
Hopefully this would be the war to end all wars.
The people of the world watched on.
Mothers held their children just that little bit tighter.
Fathers opened the "window" of family time just that little bit wider.
Everybody hoped for peace.
But everybody knew tomorrow would never be the same again...