dailybell: September 11, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

September 11, 2008

On September 11, 2006, I was tolling a 250lb bell in one of the parking lots at Arlington National Cemetery. The parking lot was deserted. There were no tour buses that day and I didn’t see a single person in the lot or the grounds immediately adjacent to the lot. I did hear, however, cannons being fired in the distance. A prolonged series of muffled explosions.

I had come to the cemetery to toll the big bell. At that time according antiwar.com- 2600 Americans had been killed. Iraqbodycount.org estimated that between 40,000 and 46,000 Iraqi’s had been killed in the war. Based on the tolling rate of that particular bell, I had calculated the number of days and hours it would take to commemorate every person that had been killed. At that time in 2006, if I tolled the bell for 45 minutes per day, it would take 2 days to ring for all of the Americans that had been killed. It would take another 34 days to ring for each Iraqi killed.

Two years later, the numbers of people killed in this war has more than doubled. Imagine waking up in the morning and hearing a bell slowly, constantly ringing for an hour. One peal every other second. Over and over. Each toll of the bell sounding for someone who has died. At the end of the hour, you would have heard 1800 individual sounds. 1800 individual souls. Now imagine waking up everyday for the next 2 and a half months and hearing the same thing.

People do not agree on the numbers of people that have been killed in the war. Especially when it come to the numbers of Iraqis. The most conservative numbers from iraqbodycount.org estimate that between 86,864 and 94,782 Iraqis have died as of June 2008. The Lancet Study places the count at 654, 9565 as of June 2006. Too many people no matter how or who is counting.

AM 2008
Norman and I began the day quietly in the backyard. I rang the new bowl(audio) that Norman had gotten in Germany from Der Glockenladen where the 3rd generation proprietor, Michael Metzler, makes the bowls and other bell creations. This bowl is not uniformly round or thick and so it has a shimmery quality from the different pitches. It's also a bit difficult to sustain the resonance, but it’s a lovely sound and I like it very much.

PM 2008
We went to the cemetery at Chrissy Fields in the Presidio to observe the sunset and ring the big bell. While Norman remained with the car, I climbed over a low stone wall and walked among the gravestones.

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