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The Search For The Elusive September 12th Effect: Pearl Jam And The Elixir For Unity, Love and Healing Thumbnail

The Search For The Elusive September 12th Effect: Pearl Jam And The Elixir For Unity, Love and Healing


And I wished for so long. Cannot stay.
All the precious moments. Cannot stay.
It's not like wings have fallen. Cannot stay.
But still something's missing. I cannot say, yeah.

As I sit on my deck and watch the late summer sun descend earlier and earlier on the mountain, I cannot help but have my attention turn to the coming of another 9/11 anniversary. Twenty-one years ago this week, on the darkest day in my lifetime, our nation was tattooed with permanent ink, an indelible scar, one that remains with us all. One that taught us all a lifetime of very painful lessons yet also provided us with the gift of wisdom and historical perspective, the bedrock hallmark traits of a monumental event.  

Holding hands are daughters and sonsAnd their faiths are falling down, down, down, downI have wished for so long, how I wish for you today

My wife was pregnant with our son, Conor, at the time and I will say it tattooed him, it is in his soul and a part of his DNA. He is a junior in college now and I am incredibly proud of him. This next weekend we will have his first “real” parents’ weekend as he begins his junior year. He is maturing before our eyes and his levelheaded, empathetic and inquisitive spirit are persistent reminders to those who know and love him that he grew up in the shadow of 9/11. 

In watching Conor grow up and thrive as he works to navigate the world, I keep thinking to myself that this is what 21 years looks like. He’s a measuring stick by which I mark the time since September 11th. The world was never same after that terrible day. The traditions of remembrance that have grown in the wake of the tragedy only serve to underscore this point. 

One such tradition is that of The Bogmen’s 9/11 shows. I wrote about how the band was directly affected by 9/11 last year, and as of Thursday the 8th, I was getting very excited to see the band perform on Saturday the 10th at Webster Hall. Unfortunately, the show was unexpectedly postponed and so I sat with my son Liam and my friend Kevin to brainstorm just how we wanted to spend our “now free” Saturday night. We debated whether we wanted to go out to see Van Morrison at Forest Hills but getting to Queens from NJ is always a tedious drive. We couldn’t think of anything to fill the Bogmen void but kept coming back to the assumption that we simply weren’t going to be able to pivot to see Pearl Jam at the Apollo Theatre that night. It’s too competitive a ticket, it’s too last minute, no way no how. 

Kevin had another obligation that evening, and we discussed that we would continue to brainstorm and compare notes in the morning. Kevin’s car had no sooner left the parking lot when seemingly from the heavens, we received a text from a family friend asking if we were interested in seeing Pearl Jam at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, September 11th. 

 Will I walk the long road? (the long road) Cannot stay (the long road)There's no need to say goodbye (to say goodbye)All the friends and familyAll the memories going round, round, round, roundI have wished for so long, how I wish for you today

Our back up planning that felt like a lost cause only moments earlier had taken on new life and evolved into a surreal gift of a life experience that none of us will soon forget. This warp speed turn of events suggested the notion that it’s sometimes better to be lucky than good. As a planner, I recognize the need for a primary and a back up plan to stay ahead of the curves that inevitably come our way in life. As a young husband, father and planner in 2001, I will never forget the horror of the day and the absolute shock, nor will I forget the phone calls of sheer panic around the subject of life insurance. September is ironically life insurance awareness month. My Deutsche Bank clients working at 130 Liberty Street were literally in the front row as the terror unfolded and, not surprisingly, they have always represented a face of 9/11 for me and an unsettling gut check that accompanies the day each year. Life insurance is not a subject many people like to discuss but it is a necessity if you have non-negotiables in your life. Goals and aspirations that need to be accomplished no matter where life takes you. Please do not delay or back burner this item. I have seen firsthand the sense of security and stability that life insurance planning provides to individuals and families; it is invaluable.

 And the wind keeps roaring
And the sky keeps turning grey
And the sun is set
The sun will rise another day

Sunday’s return of Pearl Jam to Madison Square Garden after a two year pandemic-induced absence was absolutely what the doctor ordered. First responders, friends and families, multiple generations of music lovers, together again! Eddie and the band played a truly inspired set and took the opportunity to remind us that “There was a time we supported each other. That’s the part we cannot forget. Let those lessons be remembered as our solidarity to come together and keep this country straight.” Amen to that sentiment, and to the thousands of likeminded, appreciative Americans that helped us shake that iconic building into a blissfully united frenzy.  

Authored by: Rob & Liam Armstrong

Songwriters: Eddie Jerome Vedder

Long Road lyrics © Innocent Bystander, Womad Music Ltd.

The Concert For New York Version, October 20,2001

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