Union Square, 9/22/01
Photograph by Martha Cooper
“Why put Race for the Sky on the web?”  It’s nine years since the attacks - do we not all have 9/11 fatigue?  Isn’t it futile, or melodramatic, or simplistic to continue to be concerned about the manner in which we remember an event already enshrined in national lore?

These are good and valid questions.  My answer in part is that Race for the Sky on the web is simply one more contribution to the spontaneous acts of expression that transformed the streets of New York City after 9/11.  Joining my fellow New Yorkers, Race for the Sky on the web is a freely-given act of creativity that is a response to 9/11, a response that has continued for almost nine years.

As more musicians perform Race for the Sky, they ask me to share with them the story of its development. Doctoral students have conducted research into the songs themselves. There is a large box in my home full of photographs, documents, artifacts, letters, pictures and memorabilia all contributing to the story of Race for the Sky.  Placing this collected research on the web makes it more available to other artists.

Canal Street, 9/17/01
Photograph by Martha Cooper
Most especially, the presence of Race for the Sky on the web contributes to the complexity of the memory of 9/11. Our present actions and our understanding of ourselves are formed by our memories and shared history. They are also shaped by hope – “Give me crisis-hope” poet Susan Katz writes in the collaborative poem Tower One - with which we meet the future. The responses of New Yorkers in the streets after 9/11 should factor into our recollections.

Working with Race for the Sky has led me to wonder about the instinctual artistic responses of people to violence across the world. Examining artifacts and expressions of everyday citizens in response to crisis along the lines of Race for the Sky would be a fascinating and I suspect, revealing, study of the impulses of the human spirit. This study is beyond my resources. But I hope that others may take up the investigation.

Perhaps music will sustain for posterity other memories that risk being forgotten in the sweep of time.