Hiram Fletcher had a seemingly impossible task. Even as the dust settled on the city of his birth after the unspeakable horror of two airplanes explosively hitting the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the Bureau of Information had assigned him to get an accounting of the victims.
Oh, there were people getting the names of the fallen and the First Responders who bravely went in to the buildings as other hurriedly rushed out. An easier task than befell Hiram.
He couldn’t figure out why the information he sought would have any bearing or historic significance on the tragedy. Fletcher needed to find out what political affiliation these people held.
When he hit the streets he saw the devastation. And the depression and the utter disbelief that something so illogical could befall New York City and reverberate throughout America. But he had an assignment and his duty to his superiors drove him onward.
“Excuse me, Sir?” Hiram approached a gentleman clutching a photograph of a woman with two children. “Have you lost someone?” he absent-mindedly asked.
“Are you with the government?” the man started holding out his portrait. “My wife? Have you seen my wife?”
His tears fell. His words coming in thick sobs.
His friend and partner. His wife; the mother of his two children. Nowhere to be found.
“No sir, no I haven’t seen her. Could you tell me something?” Hiram said almost afraid to ask. “What was you wife’s party affiliation?”
The man looked at Hiram incredulously.
“Wha… my wife’s par… YOU SON OF A BITCH! FUCK YOU!”
The man stormed off glancing back at Hiram briefly before continuing.
Hiram felt the piercing thrust of the man’s painful daggers gouge out a piece of his heart. He went in search of another survivor.
A woman stood motionless. A blank stare filled her eyes. Looking for the towers of that impressive landmark.
“They’re not there” she mumbled. “The towers… they’re… gone!” she turned to Hiram. The pain that resided upon her face made Hiram move on to find another person.
He found a firefighter, dust encrusted and composing himself for another foray into the mire.
“Can I help you sir?” the First Responder asked.
“I’m… um, with the Bureau of Information. Can I… um, ask you…” Hiram started as the young man rose to stand.
“Look, I’d love to answer your questions, but right now I have to get back there. My brother is missing. I have a lot of “brothers” missing here.”
“Just one question? Your brother was he affiliated with any political party?” Hiram blurted.
The Responder exhaled deeply. “Buddy, let me give you some information for free. Don’t go around asking that question of too many people. People have died here. Friends, and brothers and wives; husbands. Fine people all! Does it matter if they were Republican or Democrat or whatever? Leave it be!”
And he walked away.
Hiram proceeded to perform his job finding much truth in the firefighter’s words. He walked all afternoon meeting the same resistance. Fletcher’s report would be a surprise to his supervisor.
There were no Republicans killed in the tragedy. No democrats fell silent. The number of Conservatives and Liberals were equal. Zero.
His breakdown was very brief and spoke volumes.
The people who died were Americans.
Attached to the report, Hiram Fletcher included his resignation. What did it matter?