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1941-2001: An Historical Analogy

Now Available!
"Awakened With A Terrible Resolve"
December 7, 1941 - September 11, 2001.
An historical analogy.

A Portion of the sale of this print will be donated to the USO to SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!

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or call: 914-245-8903 for more information.

Image size: 11" X 17"
Edition size: 911 S/N prints
Price: $150.00 unframed.
Price FRAMED: $350.00


“I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant and instilled in him a terrible resolve!”

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto
December 7, 1941

It was a beautiful day. As I drove to school that glorious morning, the rising sunlight glistened upon the tranquil waters of the Hudson River. But within hours the serenity of that morning, indeed the serenity of our world, would be horrifically shattered and torn asunder by unthinkable acts of terror.

I can’t recall what I taught in my first period class. It was a normal class, like any other September day, early in the school year. Second period I had a prep and went to my office for a cup of coffee and a bagel. My third period class was scheduled to begin at 9:12. Around 9:00 AM, I left my office and headed toward the other end of the building, coffee mug in hand.

Take a moment to remember where you were and how you felt when you heard the news.

I decided to stop in the English office to say hello. Several of my colleagues were huddled around a portable radio, many of them crying. “A plane has just crashed into the World Trade Center”, I was told as soon as I entered the room. My first reaction was that it must have been an accident . A small plane flown by an inexperienced pilot probably lost control and hit the Tower. I rushed to my art room and put on a radio. As students began to trickle in I was listening to the news reports. I was standing just outside my doorway. Carl Harden, the technology teacher from across the hall was there with me. Our school resource officer, Detective Jim Neek soon joined us. All semblance of normalcy on that day quickly disintegrated as word began to spread throughout the school. All hell began to break loose in the hallways. Pearl River sits figuratively in the shadows of the World Trade Center. Hundreds of our children’s parents worked in NYC and the Twin Towers. We had dozens of local citizens who were firefighters and policemen in the City. The magnitude of the tragedy began to rapidly escalate. The second tower had been hit, and then, unbelievably, the Pentagon. I will never forget the news women’s exact words, “”Things just got worse! A plane has crashed into the Pentagon!” It became readily apparent that these events were no accident. They were a pre meditated and deliberate attack upon our Country. An act of war.

I felt a chill run down my spine. Detective Neek said sharply, “I better get downstairs!” and hurried away. I turned to Carl harden and said, “Our country is under attack! This is our Pearl Harbor!” No one knew what to do. We were all in a state of shock. Students were running through the halls, many of them crying, hugging each other, sobbing uncontrollably. Kids rushed to the pay phone to try to call their parents. Cell phones were of no use, all lines seemed to be busy. Our students could not find out if their folks were OK.

Reports of a crash in a field in Pennsylvania soon followed. My God! could it get any worse? I kept trying to reassure myself, “OK, It’s not too bad, we can get through this.” Then the unexpected happened, the two towers collapsed. My heart just sank, it must have actually stopped. Could it be? That’s impossible! All those people! Tears filled my eyes as I stared out the window in absolute stunned disbelief. The rest of the school day was a blur. I remember thinking about my brother-in law who worked at the Deutche Bank building right across from the Towers. He had an office that looked right out at them. My sister in law, another brother in law and a niece all worked downtown. I tried to call my wife on my cell phone. All circuits were busy. It took hours to finally get through. She was home with our four year old. She knew what had happened but didn’t have the radio or TV on for fear of alarming him. “Have you heard from Kevin?” I asked. “No” she replied, “but he’s not in those buildings, he’s across the street.” "No," I said, "you don’t understand, the Towers, they’re gone!” “What do you mean?” she asked. “They’re Gone!” I repeated. “Gone! Just Gone! Collapsed! They fell down! They landed on everything there!” There was a long silence on the other end of the phone. I could visualize her standing there as the meaning of my words sunk in. “I’ll call Dad and try to find out about everybody!” She responded. “I’ll call you as soon as I hear anything!” She said just before she hung up. Tears again welled up in my eyes. I did not know at that time if we had lost anybody in our family. I said a prayer and then, to keep my mind off of my fears, went to try to do something to help there in the school. The staff and all the students were galvanized into action and everyone pitched in to help in any way they could. We all felt the need to do something to help, anything to help in any way we could.

Leaving the school building to go home that afternoon, I passed an intersection on the way to the Palisades Parkway entrance. Four young men in an open Jeep were driving toward me in the opposite lane. I recognized them as former students, graduates, I couldn’t place their names. The fellow in the back seat was holding a pole with a huge American Flag. It was waving valiantly in the wake of the Jeep’s movement. A lump welled up in my throat and tears came to my eyes. I shot my left arm out my window and pumped my fist in the air. I blew my horn and the boys responded in kind. We will get through this I thought. We Are United. They pissed off the wrong country this time! “They have awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve” I thought, remembering a quote from a Japanes Admiral right after Pearl Harbor. Well, we remember how that one turned out.

As I sat in traffic, crossing the TZ Bridge driving home that fateful afternoon, I watched in horror and still in disbelief as the whole of Manhattan appeared to be burning. All the city bridges had been closed. All the traffic was diverted across the Tappan Zee, the first bridge North of the City that was still open. The traffic was horrible but I didn’t get all mad and angry like I usually would have. Nobody was. I looked at the faces of others in cars next to me. We nodded at one another. We knew, we were all thinking the same thing. “United WE Stand!” “The bastards will not get away with this!” I listened to the radio. I watched my city burn.

When I arrived home about two hours later I hugged and kissed my children and my wife. She had gotten in touch with all our family members. Everyone was accounted for. Safe. Thank God! I hung out my flag on our porch. I took the kids out in the yard and played baseball, the most “American” thing I could think of to do. That night we lit candles in our windows and out near the street. I kept Fox news on all night long, as I would do for weeks. I didn’t sleep.

Driving back across the bridge the next morning, the gaping hole in the NY skyline was as alien as the knot in my stomach and the ache in my heart. 5000 innocent people would never greet their loved ones again .

In the instant that the attack occurred, we all realized who we were. We were, first and foremost, Americans. We realized, perhaps for the first time, that we were part of a much greater whole and that whole carried with it a responsibility and true significance. In that instant we all became United as Americans. As the hours turned to days and the days to weeks my feelings of pride reached extraordinary heights as I watched America respond. I watched the Spirit of America reawaken in all of US. In the immediate aftermath of September 11th, we all experienced that Spirit and responded to it with action. “What Can I do to help my country, to help my fellow Americans” we asked ourselves. The answer came from deep inside our hearts and our actions exemplified the spirit of America; that elusive intangible that defines us as Americans. We do things to help other people. We volunteer to get things done for the betterment of humanity and the betterment of the world. Maybe the first thing you did was to take your flag from the closet and hang it proudly on your porch. Many went to donate blood or attended candlelight vigils. The very next day the student government started a fund drive for the victims. I stood in the hall with a bucket after lunch and students dropped in change by the handfuls, and fives and tens and even twenty dollar bills.

American’s actions mirrored the very same spirit that we saw in the faces of the rescuers who rushed into those burning buildings, disregarding their own safety to help others. We saw it in the faces of the office workers who stayed behind with disabled and injured friends, and assisted them down so many flights of stairs. We heard about it in the actions of the passengers on flight 93, who took control of their situation, and fought back so that no other innocent American lives would be lost on that day. We saw it in the Volunteers and rescuers from all over the area, from all over the country, from every State in our Union. They descended on our city in massive numbers, to help and assist in any way they could and they too redefined the spirit of America. When trucks and heavy equipment was needed, it arrived by the dozens, when bottled water was requested it arrived by the hundreds, when food, sandwiches and cookies were required, it arrived by the thousands. You donated some of that food, You baked some of those cookies. There were no acts of selfish indignation, every united states citizen chipped in and helped and assisted as best they could and we were all part of it. I was moved and heartened by this outpouring of support, help, resiliency, kindness and patriotism shown by everyone, the people of NYC, and the people of America. We all witnessed first hand what Abraham Lincoln called “The better angels of our nature” . We personified the true spirit of America; individuals risking their lives and doing anything and everything to help others.

I see that spirit still today, in the faces of the brave men and women of our armed forces. They have taken the fight to the enemy and have freed a million people in the process, from the tyranny of dictators and terrorist regimes. May God Bless Them!

On the evening of September 11th, I made a promise to myself that I would NEVER forget what had transpired, or the people who lost their lives on that day. It is imperative that we, that you, and that future generations of Americans NEVER forget them. The memories of their lives we should always cherish and always remember.

U S Supreme Court justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. a veteran of the American Civil War, spoke about the importance of what we are doing today when he said,

“I think it is a noble and pious thing, to do whatever we may, by written word and molded bronze and sculpted stone, to keep our memories, our reverence, and our love alive, and to hand them on to new generations, all too ready to forget.”

Never forget. Never forget the people who were lost, Never forget the need to be vigilant, for there will still always be those who will try to destroy our freedom. But also never forget how you felt in the days that followed, when we realized what it meant to be an American. When you learned about the true meaning of American Spirit that allows us as a people to persevere, to look forward and to rise from the ashes of this or any tragedy. It is the hallmark of our history and the legacy left by generations.

Today, the legacy lives on in you. Continue to do good things for the betterment of America. Carry the spirit of America in your heart every day, keep that spirit alive forever, and then, hand it on, to new generations, all too ready to forget.

The imensity of the tragedy of September 11 made the creation of this artwork extremely difficult for me. My idea of combining the two images; Pearl Harbor and the World Trade Center; struck me almost immediately as the days events unfolded. The rough sketch was completed in the Spring of 2002 but I was unable to bring myself to render the final drawing until early 2004. In many ways the drawing was a catharsis for me. It expresses my sadness, anger and resolve, all strong emotions aroused in me by the horrific images and memories of the day.

The parallells between December 7 and September 11 are clearly evident to me and represents the historical significance of each attack. It is my intention for the image to be both powerful and disturbing, while paying tribute and honor to the thousands of American citizens who lost their lives on both days. My hope is that people who see the artwork will never forget the way they felt that day and will continue to support our Nation's actions, taken to assure that a similar attack on our Country will never happen again. We should all have been "AWAKENED WITH A TERRIBLE RESOLVE"!

God Bless our troops and God Bless America!
Paul R. Martin III
October 2001

“The dead do not need us, But forever and forever more, we need them”

James A. Garfield
(1831-1881) 20th President of the United States.

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