Ten years on, new stories find a way to be told about that day. Everyone owns a part of history, however far removed they were from the events that occurred. September 11, 2001 horrifically created a common experience.
My experience became real, running late to a business law class and arrived to a visibly upset professor. Upon hearing the news from his students he said, in a broken voice, “I can’t do this today, class dismissed.”
Everyone left in search of news, finding nothing to make sense of the morning.
The morning after, September 12, I woke up early to seek out a New York Times. By 8 am there were no copies left in the student union, the grocery store across from campus, nor the convenience store a block away. You Tube, Facebook and social media as we know it today, let alone the scale of internet news didn’t exist. A physical newspaper still retained meaning, as if to say, “yes, yesterday did happen.”
Twice a week, I submitted political cartoons to the campus newspaper, the TCU Daily Skiff. The cartoon for September 12 was already published. I called an editor and told them I’d have a cartoon for them by mid afternoon.
I sat at my desk, in my dorm, with my sketchpad and wrote down a few words. What did I want the cartoon to say? A good political cartoon evokes an idea with minimal need for words. The Skiff’s cartoon for the 12th was that of a dark grey bust of the Statue of Liberty, torch held high, and a white, contrasting tear falling down her cheek.
Powerful, somber, resonant.
I couldn’t do that the next day. I had to go a different direction. Horror? Anger? Defiance? Resilience? Depressing? Ashes? Smoke? Flags? Firefighters? Police? Uncle Sam…
Uncle Sam, ashes, smoke…
There’s a Pearl Jam song, Given to Fly, where the line at the climax of the song, Eddie Vedder sings, “At first he was stripped, then he was stabbed by faceless men, well fuckers, he still stands.”
“He still stands.”
Uncle Sam still stands amidst all the ashes and rubble and smoke.
The song continues on, “He still gives his love, he just gives it away.”
I’ve got the image in my head and quickly sketch it out. I then draw on the paper I use to submit the cartoon and pencil the basic image and finish with the inks. I turned the cartoon in that day, and it ran September 13th.
I chose resilience.
= = =
I’ve since lost the original inked version. Moving tends to misplace pieces of paper. Below is the only remnant of that cartoon.