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Poetically Yours Ep. 58 - Remembering 9/11 20 Years Later

9/11 Memorial
Ben Lei / Unsplash
9/11 Memorial

Obertubbesing was at the Sears Tower on September 11, 2001. She said she remembers every detail of that day.

Welcome to Poetically Yours. This segment highlights poets from northern Illinois. Today’s episode features Carol Obertubbesing.

Obertubbesing grew up in Union City, New Jersey and saw the New York skyline every day of her life until she left. In 1969, she became part of the first coed class at Princeton University. She said that was the defining event of her life.

The Princeton Alumni Weekly published an article she wrote about her experience as one of the first women to attend Princeton. She returned to Princeton almost every year for reunions and other events and now serves as Regional Vice President for the Class of 1973. In 2019, she organized a national conference held in Chicago to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Undergraduate Coeducation at Princeton. Last year, the University gave her the Distinguished Service to Princeton Award.

Obertubbesing has served on the Board ofWoodstock Folk Festival since 1993 and has organized the festival’s virtual performances for the past two years.

She’s worked in public tv and radio. She was the director of Outreach at WGBH, and at PBS she was the associate director of the Elementary and Secondary Service. She said she is an avid listener of public radio.

Obertubbesing is remembering 9/11 on its 20th anniversary in this week’s poem. It's called "Where Do We Go?"

Where do we go when the tall buildings fall

Precious lives are lost

And the odor of death fills the streets

We bear witness and build a peaceful world to reunite.

Where do we go when those who are supposed to save us

Cannot save themselves

And the memorials fill the streets

We use our common humanity to quell the fright.

Where do we go when even rescue dogs tire

Their days and ours lacking in hope

And signs of loved ones lost fill the streets

We treasure the small moments when stars shone bright.

Where do we go when the bombs come

Freedom, justice, and dignity are gone

And refugees fill our streets

We listen, learn, reflect, care, and write.

Where do we go when truth no longer matters

Facts are alternative

And hate signs fill the streets

We raise our voices and let them take flight.

Where do we go when our leaders divide us

The Golden Rule no longer matters

And fighting fills the streets

We stand for each other with all our might.

Where do we go when our feet can no longer dance

Music no longer heals

And silence and despair fill the streets

We join in new songs to reach a new height.

Where do we go when love is masked or fades

God doesn’t seem present

And darkness fills the streets

We turn to each other and give each other light.

Where do we go when all else fails

We remember, we believe, we act

We join our neighbors to fill the streets

We hold each other through the night.

  • Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.
Yvonne covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This could include how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities. Boose is a recent graduate of the Illinois Media School and returns to journalism after a career in the corporate world.