There Are No Words
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from “A Nation Remembers. The Story of the Pentagon Memorial”
“There Are No Words” written on 9/11/2001
there are no words there is no song
is there a balm that can heal these wounds that will last a lifetime long
and when the stars have burned to dust
hand in hand we still will stand because we must
in one single hour in one single day
we were changed forever something taken away
and there is no fire that can melt this heavy stone
that can bring back the voices and the spirits of our own
all the brothers, sisters and lovers all the friends that are gone
all the chairs that will be empty in the lives that will go on
can we ever forgive though we never will forget
can we believe in the milk of human goodness yet
we were forged in freedom we were born in liberty
we came here to stop the twisted arrows cast by tyranny
and we won’t bow down we are strong of heart
we are a chain together that won’t be pulled apart
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 15 years since the events of 9/11, a day that Americans won’t ever forget. I had just moved to Ann Arbor a few weeks before the 11th, and when the reality of what was happening began to sink in I found myself walking around the boxes piled in my living room, thinking “I should be writing a song about this – but there are no words for this, there is no song I could write.” Gradually those words took shape in my head and became the chorus for the song. The verses quickly followed, and a few nights later I sang it at a gathering in East Lansing, Michigan. For days afterward I heard from audience members who urged me to record it, so within a week we were in the studio and recorded it as a single. I began handing out CDs to anyone who asked.
I’ve never had an agenda for the song and in a very grassroots way, it found it’s way around the country and the UK, being sent to radio stations, churches, family members and friends. In 2002, I received a Michigan Emmy for the song because it was used by the Detroit NBC affiliate, WDIV, in a piece that they did on the attacks. In 2008, an Ann Arbor company, 45 North Communications, released a documentary on the Pentagon version of 9/11, and again featured the song prominently in the film. That led to an invitation from the Pentagon to sing it at the dedication of the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial on September 11, 2008, which I did with friends and musicians David Mosher and Pooh Stevenson. Hosted by Tom Brokaw, the experience was profound in every way, from sharing dinner the night of September 10th with family members of 9/11 victims, to standing in front of 16,000 people who were personally touched by the attacks, accompanied by the Air Force Band and Choir.
I think it’s the hope of every artist to create something that affects people in a strong way, and I’m honored that ‘There Are No Words’ has played a part in the healing process of our country for so many people.
Over the years I’ve gotten hundreds and hundreds of emails from all over the country regarding ‘There Are No Words’ and I’ve decided to post a few of them. They’re exactly how I received them, misspellings and all.
Immediately following 9/11
“your song is a prayer”
“Absolutely stunning song – if a song about this subject can be stunning… this SHOULD be the 9-11 anthem. You DID find the words, Kitty…”
“This is probably THE song to remember 9/11. I hope this continues to be sung and remembered and loved; truly a song for the ages.”
“This is beautiful. Thank you, Kitty”
“this is a truly american song”
“I heard your song about the attacks on the radio and I had to pull over I was so overcome with emotion. I was a firefighter for all of my career and your song says it all so eloquently.”
“There is no way that I can express what your song means to me and my family. We’ve passed it around the country to friends and relatives and they are all equally moved by this masterpiece.”
“Beautiful… Simply beautiful.”
“Incredibly moving…I sent it to about 25 friends last night, and have already heard from a number of them who feel the same way.”
Following the Pentagon Memorial Dedication performance in 2008
“Still moved and speechless one year later by your tribute. From one who was in the Pentagon and lost 29 shipmates that day in the Navy Command Center. thank you…”
“You & your song were made for this moment…”
“Kitty Donahoe wrote the most beautiful and touching song and gave the BEST performance to honor all those who were lost on 9/11 and to help those that survived.
“Beautiful performance. You are so wonderful.”
“I watched the entire memorial service on Fox News, but I must admit that I was not glued to the television until you started to sing. I was overwhelmed. I am retired from the USAF and spent six years of my thirty year career in that building.”
“Ms. Donohoe, I am so glad that you are finally getting recognition for your most beautiful song, ‘There Are No Words’. In my mind, you were one of the first to record a memorial song concerning 9/11 and its still the best of them all.”