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Rod in action at The Riverton Rendezvous, July 2001. 
Photograph courtesy Jay Hagan.

A Thought for Today

Love, the veteran of all wars, wins more battles than the sharpest sword.


Tuesdayís crimes against America were attacks on all of civilization. Watching the awful images glide by on television and realizing the terrible cost in human life and what itís done to the worldís collective conscience and psyche was one of the worst experiences of my life. I know all of you feel the same as I do and to those who lost someone you knew or loved in the carnage I send my sympathy and love.

Two people I knew perished in the carnage. One was a passenger on American Airlines Flight # 11 when it crashed into the north World Trade Center tower; the other was a crewmember of United Flight # 93 that went down in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

All day as I surfed channels and picture after picture became imprinted on my mind I kept thinking, ďwhat can I do? How can I possibly make a difference when something this catastrophic happens as I sit helplessly thousands of miles away transfixed by what Iím seeing and unable to totally comprehend it?"

For those of you who may have the same feeling of helplessness Iíve started making a list.


ē Support the president and the country. Heís our president; our leader in this is our country. Partisanship and politics mean nothing in times like these. All Americans should speak with one clear voice and whatever our president in his wisdom decides to do we should support him whole-heartedly. We are very lucky to have so many friends in other countries around the world offering their condolences and support during this latest trial. Adversity always shows us who our friends are.

ē Give blood. No matter where you live the blood supply is lower than it has ever been. Despite the encouraging pictures TV shows us of people lined up to donate blood, the need goes on. We are in the midst of one of the greatest shortages of whole blood and plasma in the nations history. In most cities there is less than a weeks supply of blood on hand. So make donating blood a habit.

Donít call 911 for information on where to go to be a donor. Those lines are clogged and overburdened and badly needed for real emergencies. Call your local Red Cross or one of these numbers.

1-888-BLOOD88 (1-888-256-6388)

ē Pray. Whatever your faith Christian, Jew, Muslim, belief in a higher and benevolent power always helps us through tough times.

ē Let those close to you know how much you love them. None of us are sure of the duration of a life and thatís all the more reason not to let a day go by without some word of love being spoken to those we love. Most important, if you can help it, never let the sun set on a quarrel.

ē Donít overreact. Yes, we saw images of people in Middle Eastern countries dancing in the streets celebrating the terrorist acts, but these were pockets of bigots and zealots. This behavior hardly represents the Arab view toward Americans. Most people everywhere are no different in their feelings about terrorism than you or I. Donít stoop to the level of the fanatics by singling out someone you may perceive as being different to vent your anger on. Arab Americans continue to give much to this country. Mormon, Methodist and Muslim Americans all pull their share of the load. Despite the excuses the monsters that commit these heinous crime use we must never allow ethnicity or religion as a frame of reference for judging people.

ē Call a friend. Make a special effort to get in touch with someone you havenít talked with in a long while. There arenít that many people in our lives we really get close to and as we grow older distance comes between even the closest of friends. Be the one to narrow the distance by picking up the telephone.

ē Practice brotherhood. Iíve said it often; weíre all weíve got. We are all one big family and you are your brotherís keeper.

ē Think about public service. Everyoneís busy, but none of us are so totally occupied with Ďimportant businessí that we canít afford to give a couple of hours a week to benefit others. It may sound like a clichť, but you always gain more than you give by helping others.

ē Talk to your children. Their heads are filled with questions about everything and many of those queries go unasked and thus unanswered. During difficult times the franker, more honest and intimate your conversations with your children are, the better. Look upon this tragedy as an opportunity to talk with your kids about difficult subjects like loss and fear and death.

ē Get to know your neighbors. Yes, there are people living on either side of you that deserve more than a wave from the driveway or a greeting at the mailbox.

ē Donít let your life be ruled by fear. Stay alert, but stay human. A little trust goes a long way toward overcoming fear. Think about your freedom, appreciate it. Liberty doesnít come cheaply; think about those who continue to put themselves on the line so you can live in this freest of all countries.

And have you hugged your local cop or fireman today?


My e-mail, The McKuen Message Center & The Stanyan Message Board have been filled with messages concerning the terrorist attacks. Some of them very personal and close to home. The messages and mail have come from all over; Scotland, France, Australia The Philippines, Greece, Korea, Mexico and states from Maine to California. And, yes, there were words from New York and Washington D.C. Here is a sampling.

Hello Rod, from war torn New York. It is amazing how life changes in a few short hours. The world as we know it has once again been changed forever. I watched from 50 miles away on the Robert Moses Bridge between the mainland and Fire Island, and saw clearly the smoke billowing from the remains of The World Trade Center. The shock is still with us so close to the devastation.

Once again we are forced to face the reality that the world is in dire need of hope. Tonight will be a restless one, and we are definitely not going gently into that good night. Peace to you and all. John Olsen.


Dear Rod, My husband Bill and I take turns reading your flight plan to each other every morning during breakfast. This morning was no different and it was his turn to read aloud to me while I got him another cup of coffee, then he left for duty at The Pentagon. He has been stationed there as a guard for the past thirteen months. As an Army wife Iíve followed him through several assignments and this was a step up because we have been able to live in a beautiful Virginia suburb and itís almost like he has a nine to five job.

I havenít heard from him since he left for work, which is not unusual since we seldom talk during the day. But itís nearly 4:PM and I havenít had any luck getting through by telephone to him, his office or anyone who can tell me if he is OK.

Iíve been watching television all day with the terrible disaster images on every channel and I guess I just wanted to write and share my worry. Please pray for him, Rod and pray for us. In my heart I know everything is all right and that about 6:15 or so heíll come through the door as he always does. Love, Cathy


Dear Rod, I'm sure you have been following the unbelievable events. I am actually in New Jersey and not sure when I am going where at this point.

The Marriott at the World Trade Center where we just had the big Dark Shadows reunion is destroyed and I'm grateful this tragedy didn't happen three weeks ago today while I was sleeping late on the hotel's top floor or when we had 2,000 people in the ballroom audience.

I just had a lunch meeting down there yesterday with hotel executives and was at the Marriott until mid-evening. It was an incredible relief when I got word this afternoon they had evacuated everyone safely from the hotel before the collapse of the towers on top of it.

I also heard from Paul last night that he had slipped into town for Michael Jackson's final gig, but I was tied up with Petula sound mixing session running late night. Now Paul is stuck in Manhattan, which is a ghost town tonight.

I caught a train to New Jersey arriving after midnight and I am in no hurry to go anywhere now. I think I'll probably stay settled until the situation calms at the airports in a couple of days and then get back home and plan on returning to Chicago in a week or so instead of going on now as originally planned.

Working on projects has been of total disinterest today but hopefully tomorrow I can focus better. How are you doing? I suppose Sunday's shaker there has been totally forgotten by now?

I have spent so much time at the Trade Center over the years and especially on these past few trips that I am not anxious to see the devastation first hand. I donít see how New York -- or Americans as a whole -- can ever be the same.

I will have hard time sleeping tonight. Love, Jim


Dear rod, needless to say, all has ground to a halt here. it's quiet and sad. Iíll be in touch when we're all back in operation. hope you're well. xo, Amy


Dear Rod, I know three people who work at the Trade Center,
Two of them are very close to me and one of them, Charles Hanson, lives with his wife Janet in my building. Like everyone else Iím in the dark about what has happened to them. Charles works above the 70th floor so I am very worried. I check on Janice every couple of hours since she wonít leave her apartment in case the telephone rings.

A little while ago I took her some dinner but didnít stay with her since she seems to want to stay alone and glued to the television set. I feel so helpless. The whole city seems so quiet tonight. Thanks for being there. Allyson Baum.


I'm writing this through a veil of tears. Today, September 11, 2001 is, to paraphrase Franklin D. Roosevelt, a date which shall live in infamy, the United States of America was savagely and viciously attacked by.....who?

This is a date none of us will ever forget. That which we all feared the most, but didn't think would ever really happen, happened.

December 7, 1941: Pearl Harbor
November 22, 1963: President Kennedy murdered.
April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated,
June 6, 1968: Robert Kennedy assassinated,
July 20, 1969: Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon,
January 28, 1986: The Space Shuttle Challenger Explodes,
September 11, 2001: America is Attacked.

A short while ago I said, while looking at television news, "Look at that, the Pentagon is still burning." My son was quick to note how bizarre were those words. "The Pentagon is still burning." Not here. Not in the United States. It's the Middle East or Central America, but not here. Reality is hell. The finality of the acts of terrorism today has yet to sink in. We're all in shock. No one is talking about anything else. Joe M. Hayes


it is nice to know that most of the world stands shoulder to shoulder by and with us in this tragic time. Thank you and may God bless America and God bless us all! Anonymous


I've been watching TV news and am in a state of shock... it's the worst thing I've ever seen..... Ted


I've been watching CNN all morning. I cannot find the words to express my horror and sadness at watching these terrible events unfold. My heartfelt prayers go out to all. Nora


Dear Family and Friends, I watched the TV all day today, switching from station to station for another look at the disaster. Finally tonight I couldn't take it anymore so I turned it off and came in here to reach out to all of you. I wish I had come earlier. After reading all the posts and kind words from everyone all around the globe it filled me with a sense of HOPE. It all comes down to each of us hanging on to hope and moving straight ahead with our lives to show these people responsible for all of this that our spirit can't be broken! God bless all of you and God bless America. ((((LOVE and GRATITUDE)))))Storm


I watched the whole thing live on television, while so many of you were on your way to work, or waking for the day....

I did not know what I was seeing when the first tower was burning..... it was like footage from "Towering Inferno" some crazy unscheduled movie had taken the place of my favourite show "The West Wing" and I was angry.

Then, in horror, I saw the plane slam into the south tower, and I said, as we all do (even those who profess not to believe) "oh dear God, please don't let it be true".... but it was....

I watched all through our night ... I just saw the President's address live... the former President is here in Australia, and in shock.

My heart goes out to everyone.... including those who, by association, will be condemned though innocent....

What makes me saddest is that this appears to have been perpetrated somehow in the name of God.... whatever name or identity different religions give that Source......

This is NOT Islamic fundamentalism - it is sheer insanity.

God Bless America God save us all I weep for the world. It changed forever at 8.45 am EST. For what affects one man affects us all. Please God this will not mean war. I weep for the world. Coral


I'm at work, but unable to work. All I can think about is the horrible scene going on in Manhattan and DC. All those lives, those poor people who got on planes this morning headed for LA or wherever only to have their planes hijacked and their lives ended.

For all the emergency workers who have lost their lives, for all those who have lost loved one and don't know yet if those close to them are out of harms way. For our leaders who must assemble and make decisions. For all of those who are hurting today. All I can do is pray. Pray that God will give them comfort.

ďIt makes me cry to see the things that some men do to one another. It makes me cry to see the things that some men do. ď
A very sad, Rita


Dear Friends, At times like this one wonders how God can go on. To see the murder and mayhem going on that is created by the very souls who exist because of God must surely be heartbreaking. Although the people responsible must bear the burden of their deeds - to speak of revenge is to perpetuate the reason for it happening in the first place. We don't need to fear the fires of Hell - Hell is right here on this planet. Only love can ease the pain - only love can heal the broken hearts and spirits. My heart is breaking for us all. Judy


I have been glued to the TV since 2pm this afternoon, and am at a total loss for words to express the shock and horror I felt at watching those terrible events unfold in New York and DC. It's so unbelievable, like something from a Hollywood blockbuster.... but we all know how real and truly awful it is. I really don't know what to say, but just wanted to let my American friends know that my thoughts, love and sympathy are with you all. I just hope they track down the people who did this and give them what they deserve...... Very sad, Andrea


As I watched the horrible tragedies unfold in New York and Washington this morning, my heart and prayers went out to the victims and all the other citizens of those cities. Along with those cited by Linda, may I call it to your attention that there is one New Yorker who is very important to Rod and to the FP's--Wade Alexander. Please add him to your prayers today, that he is safe and well and was not anywhere near lower Manhattan this morning.

(Wade is fine. He was hard at work in his mid-Manhattan office and unaware of what was happening downtown till a friend called him.)

I saw one good thing today that lifted my spirit, and I wanted to share it with you. Scrolling across the bottom of our TV screens late this morning was the message that the blood banks would be open late tonight and that all blood collected would be sent to New York and Washington. As I passed the blood bank trailer in my small town this afternoon, I saw at least 100 people patiently waiting in line to donate blood. It made me proud of America and Americans--proud that we come together in times of tragedy and try to help in whatever way we can. I hope that those of you who are healthy enough to donate blood will think about going to your local blood bank today and donating--for the survivors. Love and Hugs, Carol


I am saddened by what has happened here. most people believed this could not happen to us. I think a lot of peoples eyes have been opened today. my prayers are for everyone. I also pray that we find who did this and kick their asses. Maybe now the government will be a little more careful about who they let into our country! may God have mercy on us all! L.


This is not the type of commentary that we need now - remember that the last horrific terrorist attack in this country was committed by a blue eyed, blonde haired, AMERICAN ex-soldier who lived here his whole life.

It seems the ones who are truly saddened enough to post prayers and sincere thoughts are those who don't even live here. America will survive this, but not by going out and randomly kickin' ass. And certainly not by pointing our fingers at everyone who isn't an American citizen.

I cried today - for my country and for my species. And I came here and cried again. Just one of the masses. Terri


I'm stunned! This has been a catastrophe of a magnitude unseen in America since the Second World War. The loss of life will be enormous, and so pointless and unbelievable.

I wept when I saw the World Trade Center Towers collapsing into dust. I watched the first tower of the World Trade Center being erected when I worked in midtown Manhattan all those years ago. After the bombing in 1993, I thought the towers were invincible. Nothing is forever it seems. The view of the New York City skyline will never be the same, unless they rebuild, and I hope they do. Unfortunately, there is no rebuilding lost lives.

I am saddened beyond belief. Larry


I was at work this morning before I got the full impact of what has happened in our country today. The number of people on our campus that are indirectly involved because of family members living or working in New York City and Washington, D. C. is unbelievable. One staff member has a sister working at the Pentagon and has been unable to get any information regarding her sister's safety or whereabouts. Another staff member has a son working 3 blocks from the World Trade Center, who was on the street watching the fire and decided to go inside and find a phone just seconds before the building collapsed. Another staff member has a nephew working in about the same area who walked across on of the bridges from Manhattan because there was no other way out, two Professors who are with the National Guard have been called to duty. Even so far away from the happenings on the east coast, we have felt and heard the anguish today. May God be with us all, and my prayers for all the families who have lost loved ones.

Flags on our campus are flying at half-mast today. Televisions have been hooked up in all hallways for staff and students to keep up with the latest news, and our two satellite classrooms are hooked up to the latest coverage also, so that we are, even so remotely involved, able to see and feel the horror extended upon our country this morning.

My love and prayers to all, Linda


I can't believe the pictures that I am seeing on my television. My thoughts are with everyone in the U.S at this tragic time.
with deepest sympathy from Scotland. Shona


I'm still trying to come to terms with the extent of this tragedy. We across the Atlantic send the people of America our heart felt sympathies and pray more than anything that those responsible are punished for their wickedness. David


Oh my God, Rod; Are you in as much shock as I am? Iím devastated over the terroristís destructions of the buildings and the barbaric and merciless murdering of thousands of lives today. We go to bed and the country of the United States of America is fine, and then we awaken to hell. I just do not understand why there must be evil people filled with such hate and violence.

I am crushed. In my life of forty-nine years, I have gone through or seen the effects of World War II, the Viet Nam War, the Persian Gulf War, and I had seriously prayed that my lifetime and others would not have to see another war and its effects. I do not believe in war, as you don't, but to stand passive in a situation as this, would not be the right thing to do, would it? God help us all. With Love, Sharon


I've been watching CNN all morning. I cannot find the words to express my horror and sadness at watching these terrible events unfold.

My heartfelt prayers go out to all. Nora


This day will change our lives forever. We will not be the same as before. There will always be that little fear that it could happen again. But, we MUST stay strong for each other and our nation. God bless each one of you and God Bless America! Storm


Of far more importance than the World Trade Center Towers, will be the enormous loss of lives. Sadly, there is no way to rebuild those.

This horrific act of terrorism makes all of us feel vulnerable, and totally helpless and ineffectual. And all of this loss of life - to what purpose? They will pay for what they've done; of this I'm certain. Larry


Dearest Dad. This day is definitely one of the saddest of my life thus far. The senselessness of these acts is beyond my comprehension, beyond anyoneís comprehension. I work in a large hotel in downtown Calgary and we were extremely busy due to the fact that nobody can leave the city. The mood in the city is somber and everyone is in a state of disbelief. My initial reaction was denial and now I'm just tired and sad. I got home from work and immediately called both my boys. Dylan wanted me to go over there (and believe me I wanted to)- he does understand the magnitude of this. Chase is in his world of beginning Kindergarten and being a little boy.

I would love a copy of "Being 4 Years Old" if you still have it.
When I heard that this unthinkable brutality occurred in New York, I thought of you and your love for the city. I found myself checking out the message center, knowing that you would be posting something about what happened. Sorry for your loss. You do have your memories of good times-let them help get you get through the grief. Glenda


Enclosed is a photograph taken July 3, 1998 of my daughter Jamiann in front of The World Trade Center. She said to me today; "I just can't believe we will not see those buildings as we approach Giant Stadium on our way to New York."

They were just buildings...but they were filled with wonderful loved ones who will be greatly missed by their friends and families... as were the airplanes. Love, Diane Jardami


Today was the first day in our new lives. Those of us who have survived it, that is. How did you feel that first moment? Hours later? Now? How will you face tomorrow? I first felt fear. Hours later, anger, helplessness. I wanted to join the army, sign up with the Red Cross, donate blood, drive to New York to help. But instead, like most Americans, I sat in front of my television, watching CNN in total disbelief. All of those emotions running through me, throughout this horrible day.

And now, I feel a profound, overwhelming sense of grief. So many lives. Itís just wordless.

God Bless our country, its people, and our President. And God be with all of those innocent victims of this tragedy. I wish for world peace, but it won't come without retaliation. I pray our decisions we make, as a nation for the next few weeks, will be the right ones. God be with all of you and yours.
Much Love, Randi


This is a world-shattering tragedy. I can only hope that it brings together the forces of good and that together we can overcome all adversities. My love and thoughts are with you all.
Jill (Sydney, Australia).


Ann Berzinsky sent me this sad and very moving in its brevity e-mail yesterday:

Dear Rod,

Nan died at 8:30 this evening. A small tragedy in a day filled with huge tragedy. I miss her...

Love, Ann

Nan Peden was a lovely young woman I met on line and later face to face after a couple of the David Gallagan shows I participated in. She was part of the A Safe Place to Land family and will be greatly missed by many who knew her on and off line. She was kind, funny, thoughtful and a very endearing human being. It is no small tragedy to those of us who loved her, including Ann, Sonja and Keith. Our sorrow, love and warmest thoughts go out to our friend and her loving husband David.

Things will get better, they always do. Iím scheduled to take off for Denver tomorrow morning with a connecting flight to yet another destination. Iím not looking forward to flying or to leaving home at this particular time, but itís a short trip and Iíll be home next week. Sleep warm. 

 - RM 9/12/01

Details of Rod's next appearance can be obtained by following the link below.

"Tap Your Troubles Away" - the music of Jerry Herman

notable birthdays Michael Butler o Zoe Caldwell o Dan Cortez o Mary Crosby o Faith Ford o Hamlin Garland o Charles Dana Gibson o Jack Hawkins o Joey Heatherton o Kay Medford o Kate Millett o Clayton Moore o Sam Neill o Bud Palmer o Ivan Pavlov o Harve Presnell o Callum Keith Rennie o Hughes Rudd o Margaret Sanger o Barbara Sharma o Hal Wallis o Nicol Williamson
Rod's random thoughts I have known some men to wonder though Iíve heard one ask what the enemy believes in.

Freedom and love are luxuries. We have to work hard to earn them.

The rhyme is in the rowing of the boat - straight-ahead, not veering except to take on passengers. Steady hands circle sturdy paddles propelling us forever forward.


The Turning Time

Forward or back
September is the turning time.
Ask the man whose livelihood is apples
or the man who lives for love.

So spreading our arms wide
we gather in September,
as a cold man searching after firewood
before the snow blots out the world.

Housing Development

Weíll build sand castles on your birthday
the kind nobody lives in.
When waves erase your real estate
weíll start to build again.

Children are the very best masons,
good at building and rebuilding.
Together weíll observe the children
if our child-like minds are willing.


It is not enough
to live on waste
and plunge through
hip-high water
like scavengers.

Drying in the sunlight
now and then
makes us come to know
and to appreciate
the water better.

-from the Rod McKuen Calendar & Datebook.1972,1974. 1976

© 1972, 1974, 1976, 1999, 2001 by Stanyan Music Group & Rod McKuen. All Rights Reserved
Birthday research by Wade Alexander o Poetry from the collection of Jay Hagan o Coordinated by Melinda Smith
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