Posts Tagged ‘Togetherness’

The Secret to Our Remarkable Weekend in Shanksville

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Visiting Shanksville: The Secret to Our Remarkable Weekend

Written by Tony Mussari
Copyright 2011
Mussari Loftus Associates, LTD

The eternal quest of the individual human being is to shatter his loneliness.  Norman Cousins

I’ve been thinking a lot about our recent visit and screening in Shanksville. It was a remarkable experience on so many levels, and I think I know the reason why.

The places we visited were special, but that alone does not explain it.

The weather was reasonable decent, but that was to be expected.

The cost was not prohibitive, but that has always been the case.

So what caused people to write such celebratory and kind words about the weekend?  Words like these:

We could not stop talking about our experience this weekend. As always it was touching, respectful and beautiful. 

It was an amazing weekend in Shanksville.  This is your finest video.  What a fitting way to end a ten year project.

My sister told me about her wonderful experience she had with you and your wife over this past weekend and I’m so happy that it was a huge success.

We want to thank you for an unforgettable weekend. It meant the world to us being there with you both.

I believe in my heart that people enjoyed this weekend because they felt a genuine sense of belonging and a genuine sense of community.

I experienced those feelings at our dinner for 14 at the Pine Grill.  Just look at the smiles on the faces of the people, most of whom had just driven over four hours to get to Somerset, PA.

The feeling of community was palpable in the dining room of the Comfort Inn, in little gatherings at the permanent memorial, at the Methodist Church in the parking lot before Flight 93 Ambassadors Sue Strohm and Chuck Wagner made their presentation.

Outside the entrance to the Lutheran Church Recreation Hall before our community dinner people were laughing and smiling as they carried food into the building while others milled around to talk with one another and wonder if Bill Gaydos would ever arrive with his three blond friends.

So what was this sense of community that made us forget about all the things that bother us every day?

I think it can be best defined by identifying what was absent during this priceless weekend.

There was no anger, no alienation, no busyness, no contention, no confrontation, no hostility, no indifference, no loneliness.

What we had was a sense of equanimity, a sense of family, a sense of neighborliness, a sense of sharing.

There was no digital obsession.  There was genuine face to face and heart to heart communication. We were talking, learning, sharing, caring and spending time together.

We had common purpose and meaning tied into a desire to remember and a determination to think about, talk about, and show respect for people other than ourselves.

We were living and affirming what my friend George Parks said life is all about. Pariicipation. Someone wasn’t doing it for us. We weren’t watching it. We were doing it, living it and loving it ourselves.

We were giving testimony to the poetic words of Maya Angelou:

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

The snapshots we recorded document it.  The pleasant memories we carried away with us are embedded on our souls, and these memories prove that we knew what to do with our time and with one another.

We were not alone together. There were no distractions, no diversions, no digital solitaire.  

We were together, engaged and involved in something bigger than ourselves and that made all the difference.

We came to Shanksville on this September weekend to honor the heroes of flight 93. We came to this small town to remember with respect the men and women who gave their lives for our country after Spetember 11, 2001. We came to watch an artistic depiction of what America is at its best, and without knowing it or straining to do it, we built a community, a neighborhood, a family that reflects the best America has to offer.

To paraphrase the words of Dorothy Day, we brought the long loneliness of our lives to Shanksville, and like the men and women we came to honor, we discovered the answer to everything in life and death is community.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

Please provide feedback to