Editor’s Note: The essay below was written in 2001 and appears in the self-published book, Through Our Eyes: A Tapestry of Words and Images in Response to September 11. Printed and distributed in 2002, the book was the result of an independent, volunteer documentary project organized by a journalist and several friends. The author’s bio was written in 2002 and has not been updated.
The world needs more teachers like Anthony Polvere – an inspiring man who stirs the heart and soul of every student who passes through his classroom. Anthony, 39-years-young, was born in Valhalla, New York. Today, he is a photography professor at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, where he lives with his dear wife Helena A. Fina, and their dog, Yukon. Anthony has traveled extensively through Italy and has also explored Greece, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Mexico and most of the United States. His passions include hiking, camping, opera, singing and, of course, photography. He is Roman Catholic. On the morning of Sept. 11, he was teaching a digital color class when he heard the news. He wrote the following letter to his friends and family Sept. 14.
To all my friends and family in NY, D.C. and the East Coast,
As I sit here in the cozy confines of this untouched haven of Powell, Wyoming, I am constantly being reminded of what it means to have love and friendship in my life. The sounds of birds chirping in the trees, the distant hum of a lawnmower, the playful banter of horses and cows in the fields protected by the “big brother” presence of the distant mountains, and the brisk, cool breeze signifying the coming of autumn all make it seem like a typical September afternoon in a town brimming with signs of normalcy in America.
But soon the eye takes notice. Notice of the more than usual amount of American flags being flown from porches, hung in windows, and displayed in solidarity. The ear becomes sensitive to church bells mournfully but defiantly ringing their patriotic songs. Collections are being taken up in supermarkets, drug stores and college dorms. And tears are being shed for people unknown but for the similarity of being able to call themselves “Americans.”
Here at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, there is an outpouring of empathy for the victims that makes the miles between us seem small, the differences unimportant. And for my wandering soul, the portion that still drips “New York Boy” is consoled beyond belief. We are at one with all of you, and I hope that this message finds you all searching your hearts to suppress the spontaneous rage that is part of a tragedy like this and replacing it with spontaneous love for those who need help during these perilous times. We will be holding a candlelight vigil for all the victims on Tuesday evening next week at 7pm at the Bell Tower on our campus. Small town America is standing with Metropolitan America as one nation. God bless you all. Your continued presence in my life as a source of connection to my past and nourishment for my future is irreplaceable. I can only hope that the worst is behind us.
Thank you for being my friends and my family.