not so long ago, my brother and i were watching a show called Band of Brothers. we enjoyed the way that it portrayed the war from many perspectives. it inspired an epic idea. "we should watch every World War II movie in chronological order from the date that the stories take place." we didn't do it of course. a movie marathon of that size would devour our entire lives. i like the idea though. even if the majority of the movies are fictional, seeing Casablanca, Indiana Jones, and Life is Beautiful in that context would give one the slightest hint at how earth shaking a world war really is. how it reverberates across the planet, affecting everyone.

this illustration was composited from a two page border that i drew for a Pasadena Weekly story titled Voices from the Wilderness. you can view the actual border by clicking here. it was featured in their tribute to the anniversary of September 11th.

while drawing it, i kept thinking about my favorite World War II movie, The Thin Red Line. the film is narrated by several soldiers and i feel certain that the writer who prepared the screenplay was also a poet. because the soldiers' thoughts are elegant, heartbreaking, and thought provoking. while these men struggle for life though, the director lingers on the establishing shots. his footage pays special attention to the birds, snakes, lizards, and flora that also occupy the battlegrounds. the message was not lost on me: life rages in innumerable forms. humanity occupies only one strata of the world.

on September 11th, 2001, i was a teacher at a kindergarten. if not for the thousands of people who lost their lives that morning, it would have been one of the most beautiful days of my life. because parents raced home to retrieve their children. they held them so close and so long. even the parents who didn't wisk their children away to parks or movies -many did that- stayed with their kids longer than usual. they paid special attention to them. one mom stayed with our class all day. when naptime came, she slept on the floor next to her son's cot.

these paragraphs and this drawing illustrate something that one of my four year olds said when someone asked her the BIG question: what happens after we die?

her answer: everything stays the same, except for you.

© 2003 rama hughes