Thursday, September 7, 2017

9/11 Poem That’s Been Shared Over 1 Million Times Still Heals

This September 11 marks the 16th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on American soil.  The healing and rebuilding continue today.

St. Paul’s Chapel, the relief center at Ground Zero for the recovery workers after 9/11, has distributed more than a million memento cards carrying the iconic poem by the poet and 9/11 volunteer, J. Chester Johnson. This September 11th, Johnson will be a featured presenter at St. Paul’s Chapel to read his poem.

The poem, “St. Paul’s Chapel,” the signature poem for one of Mr. Johnson’s recent books of verse, has been published, emailed, and read across the world in many languages and in multitudinous places since the terrorists’ attacks. It is a poem about endurance in the face of terror and murder. The poem reflects the amazing story of the Chapel which miraculously went unscathed and provided continuous 24/7 relief services for the eight months of cleanup to those who worked at Ground Zero. Each 9/11 since then, Mr. Johnson returns to the Chapel to meet and talk with first-responders, volunteers, visitors and pilgrims. Most recently, the 9/11 community has organized at St. Paul’s Chapel a “Calling of the Names” ceremony dedicated to those responders and volunteers who came to help after 9/11 and who have since died, often as a result of their time at Ground Zero; for this ceremony, Mr. Johnson reads for the community, “St. Paul’s Chapel.”

Poet, essayist and translator J. Chester Johnson spent much of 9/11 trapped with his wife in their Wall Street offices, a short distance from the South Tower. The day, the aggressive attacks on their beloved New York City, and the immediate aftermath deeply impacted these long-term New Yorkers. As a result, Johnson started volunteering at St. Paul’s Chapel, immediately adjacent to Ground Zero. 

For eight months after the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, St. Paul’s Chapel served as the relief center for recovery workers at Ground Zero. Over 10,000 volunteers worked in 12-hour shifts to provide solace, comfort and care for 2,000 workers each day.  St. Paul’s Chapel became the spiritual home of Ground Zero.

For many, it was the first time they had ever volunteered, and they discovered that one individual’s efforts could indeed make a difference.  The poet was one of the many who came to St. Paul’s offering his help to those who needed hope and healing.  Like many who volunteered their time, he discovered that what he took away from this place of extraordinary ministry was far greater than what he brought in.

Here is the poem:

St. Paul’s Chapel

It stood.  Not a window broken.  Not a stone dislodged.
It stood when nothing else did.
It stood when terrorists brought September down.
It stood among myths. It stood among ruins.

To stand was its purpose, long lines prove that.
It stands, and around it now, a shrine of letters,
poems, acrostics, litter of the heart.
It is the standing people want:
To grieve, serve and tend
celebrate the lasting stone of St. Paul’s Chapel.

And deep into its thick breath, the largest banner
fittingly from Oklahoma climbs heavenward
with hands as stars, hands as stripes, hands as a flag;
and a rescuer reaches for a stuffed toy
to collect a touch;
and George Washington’s pew doesn’t go unused.

Charity fills a hole or two.

It stood in place of other sorts.
It stood when nothing else could.
The great had fallen, as the brute hardware came down.

It stood.

I am proud to say J, Chester Johnson is a client of the PR firm that I work for. to see more about him, consult:

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby

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