Freshman at the University of Iowa were required to take a rhetoric course in order to eventually earn a bachelors degree. I enrolled, perhaps in error, in an advanced rhetoric class during my first semester in college and immediately found myself overwhelmed. Under the direction of a formal, inflexible, and well, odd, professor, readings were abstract, writing assignments were ambiguous, and classroom discussions were ridiculously philosophical. While I was then and continue to be many things, abstract, ambiguous, and/or philosophical are not any of them. I feared I’d fail the class.
One of our assignments was to prepare and deliver a speech. Because my professor emphasized the importance of an attention-grabbing opener with regard to our overall grade, I knew I had to come up with something spectacular in order to save my grade. And so as I stepped up to the podium that fall day, I took a deep breath, wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans, and began to...sing.
Last night I had the strangest dream, I’d ever dreamed before.
I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war.
And the people in the streets below were dancing ‘round and ‘round.
And guns and swords and uniforms were scattered on the ground.
Now, 14 years later, though I can't remember the topic on which I spoke, I can't forget that song. Though I certainly don't sing it every day, "Last Night" remains an occasional but regular song on the soundtrack of my life. I hear it playing quietly in the back of my mind when I see our flag raised, when I see a service member leave or reunite with his/her family, and when I look at my children and dream of their futures.
And I hear it today, the 10th anniversary of September 11th. As we remember those who lost their lives, recognize those whose heroic actions saved the lives of others, and raise up the family members and friends left behind, I also hope for a more peaceful tomorrow and dream about the day our world agrees to put an end to war.