David Mosher, Pooh Stevenson and I all got into Arlington on the night of the 9th and were
escorted to the Pentagon for the day-long rehearsal early the next morning. Getting used to the Air Force Band and Choir
behind and next to us took some time - the stage was as big as a football field! And the pipes kept miscuing, which
had me pretty anxious. We left at 4:30 without ever having one complete, good run-through, so I decided to go with the
wisdom that a poor rehearsal means a good performance.
Immediately following that, we changed clothes and headed for the Donor Recognition Dinner
at the National Building Museum in D.C., an event hosted by Tom Brokaw that was stupendous.Everything about it was elegant
and understated and dignified. The building itself is spectacular, the music and food were superb, and it was powerful
to be sitting with so many family members of 9/11 victims.
One of the speakers was Jim Laychak, the President of the Pentagon Memorial Fund, whose brother
died in the attacks and who has spent the past several years raising funds from private donors to build the memorial.
On the morning of the 11th, I woke up at 4:00 AM to the sound of helicopters overhead, a part
of the 'security sweep' process that started at 2:00 AM. Our hotel being very close to the Pentagon it was impossible
to ignore that. By 6:15 we were in the lobby waiting to be picked up and ferried to the Pentagon grounds. Once there
we went through two more security checks and then were led backstage to the Kitty Donohoe Dressing Room/tent. The
security was very tight and I can safely say I've never before done a gig with sharpshooters lining the roofs around me!
With very little sleep and way too much coffee I was pretty shaky that morning, but when it
was time for us to perform we stepped onto the stage, the pipes cued in just like they were supposed to, and I looked out
over the sea of 16,000 people, all there for one reason, and I was filled with the moment. I don't know if I'll ever
quite feel that again.
The memorial itself is interesting -- a series of polished steel benches with water running
underneath and a light that shines up through the water at night. Each of the 184 benches has the name of a victim on
it, and some of them point toward the Pentagon, signifying those who died there; the others point in the opposite direction
for those who were on the airplane. The location of the memorial is very close to the Pentagon itself, something that
the family members insisted on.
Thank you again to John and Ance Damoose of 45 North Communications in Ann Arbor for believing
that "There Are No Words" was the right song for the documentary and for the doors that opened from there. ("A
Nation Remembers: the Story of the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial" is available at http://www.patriotseries.com/store. Also thanks to my friend David Barrett for bringing the song to them in the first place. Most of all, thanks
to David, Pooh, and Chris for sharing that amazing adventure with me.
To the best of my knowledge the film is still set to be aired nationally in May.