Visionplace of Souls was composed as a memoriam to all individuals who – unwavering in resolution and undaunted in courage – sacrificed their lives during rescue efforts surrounding the events of September 11, 2001. When the world became transfixed on the images resulting from this one day’s tragic course of events and people from afar made pilgrimages to these transformed sites, I suddenly remembered a passage from the memoirs of a citizen soldier of the American Civil War whose words, written over a century ago, have found meaning in our collective tribulation that is “9-1-1” and embodies the ideal of heroism. The passage reads:
In great deeds something abides. On great fields something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear; but spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the visionplace of souls. And reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field, to ponder and dream; and lo! the shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into their souls. [Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, The State, the Nation, and the People,in “Maine at Gettysburg: Report of the Maine Commissioners, Prepared by the Executive Committee (Portland Maine, 1898), pp. 558-59.”]
The “deathless field” of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain’s battlefield – Gettysburg – has been transformed to that now lifeless, sterile, and inert region simply referred to as “ground zero”; and to a peaceful, rural landscape in the heartland of America; and to a national icon in the very epicenter of freedom. The heroes of these new battlefields have certainly demonstrated that, “In great deeds”, hope, life, and liberty will prevail forever.