When I was ten, my parents took my sister Kate, brother Peter and me on our first trip by airplane. We traveled from New York to Washington DC. We visited museums, the OAS headquarters, and a cathedral.
But my most vivid memory was of the Lincoln Memorial. My father stood us beside the wall of the north chamber and had us recite the words of Lincoln’s second inaugural address. I did not understand the sense of our sixteenth president’s thoughts about the national trauma that was our Civil War. But I understood the beauty of the sound of his thoughts…
With malice toward none, with charity for all,
with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right,
let us strive on to finish the work we are in,
to bind up the nation's wounds,
to care for him who shall have borne the battle
and for his widow and his orphan,
to do all which may achieve and cherish
a just and lasting peace
among ourselves and with all nations.
I have shared my father’s love of flying ever since that trip.
On September 11, 2001 I was emerging from the subway in lower Manhattan when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. I rushed up the steps of the Federal Courthouse to meet with my fellow jurors, hold each other’s hands, and watch the debris bursting out of the gaping black hole like white doves in flight against an impossibly blue sky.
My father called me from his home in Florida a month later. His printer was broken. He needed me to help him choose a new one and get it up and running. He was insistent, he’d pay for my flight, my mother was already making me a pie. He needed me right away.
So I boarded a plane, breathing deeply, telling my racing heart that all would be well, that my father needed me.
He didn’t need my help, of course. He needed me to get on a plane, to not let being an eyewitness to another national trauma take away my joy of flying.
Thank you, Daddy.