There Are No Words

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We're all back from the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial dedication and I can say that it was, for me, an extraordinary experience.  Although we had been told that all the networks would carry the entire ceremony, only C-SPAN and Fox-TV did, although and CNN apparently aired some of it.  Thank you to all of you who persevered and looked around until you found it and for sending me such great e-mails to come home to.  Lyrics at right...
After "Words"

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  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.


There Are No Words

there are no words   there is no song             
is there a balm that can heal these wounds that will last a lifetime long             
and when the stars have burned to dust
hand in hand we still will stand because we must 
in one single hour   in one single day
we were changed forever  something taken away            
and there is no fire that can melt this heavy stone            
that can bring back the voices and the spirits of our own

all the brothers, sisters and lovers   all the friends that are gone
all the chairs that will be empty in the lives that will go on
can we ever forgive  though we never will forget
can we believe in the milk of human goodness yet

we were forged in freedom  we were born in liberty
we came here to stop the twisted arrows cast by tyranny
and we won’t bow down  we are strong of heart
we are a chain together  that won’t be pulled apart

written 9-11-2001 by Kitty Donohoe, Roheen Music BMI


“There Are No Words”

I wrote “There Are No Words” on 9-11-2001, sometime in the afternoon of that day as the unreality began to sink in of what was happening.  I had just moved to Ann Arbor and was walking around the boxes piled in my living room, thinking “I should be writing a song about this, but there are no words for this, there is no song I could write”, when those thoughts began to gather shape in my head and became the chorus for the song.  A few nights later I sang it at a gathering in East Lansing, Michigan, and at the urging of the audience, I recorded it as a single that weekend and began handing them out to anyone who asked for a copy.

In a very grassroots way, the CD found it’s way around the country and the UK, being sent to radio stations, ministers, family members... and as a songwriter I’m honored that “There Are No Words” has been able to give voice to that horrible experience that our nation went through.

There Are No Words (mp3)


Kitty Donohoe