Visiting in that context--and seeing the Independence Hall copy of The Declaration of Independence--was a profound experience. I cried lots. Although the March had happened on an overcast, mild winter day, the weather had turned. Our tour took place on a blustery afternoon of wind-driven rain. I learned something about Independence Hall then: it has a voice. It sings in windstorms. The sound is like a violin or a cello, a low note--and it's loud! Independence Hall sang to my sister and me that day, and its song was as mournful as I felt.
About a week ago, my friend Treavor Hastings, who produces the news at ABC radio in New York, wrote to ask me for a July 4th poem they could broadcast. I'd been slammed with trying to get two novels--one for teenagers, and one for ghost-loving grownups--off my desk. So I gave myself one day to write the poem, and I'm proud to say I got it done and voiced within 48 hours of his request. It was an deep and extraordinary experience, and a great honor. I felt like I was writing the inaugural poem for a President I wouldn't want to protest. I ended up writing about the Founders, about being American, not about being political. My poem starts with Independence hall singing in a storm--and ends with fireworks. I'm awfully glad I got the chance to write it and record it for broadcast on July 4th. It will be on the air at different times throughout the USA, on ABC radio affiliates.
Just for the record, "America, The Beautiful" makes me cry, too, especially the verse about the alabaster cities "undimmed by human tears."
And today, when I logged on to social media, I found out from The Anne Frank Center For Mutual Respect that it would have been Anne Frank's 88th birthday.
Probably more than any other book I read as a very young person, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl moved and changed me. I read it at about the age Anne wrote it, and that resonated with me hugely at the time. It felt like a letter from a very gifted friend.
When I finally saw the rooms that the Frank family hid from the Nazis in, in Amsterdam, they felt almost familiar. I remembered how Anne had described their ordeal as almost an adventure at times--and how she'd had the same complaints about cranky family members and the same desire to love and be loved that I did then.
As an author who aims much of her work at young people, I have to stop and remember Anne from time to time. The great power of her book is how much she was and is all of us. Happy birthday, Anne! I hope you are resting in light and power!
And what a great job I have, getting to put these words on paper--or a glowing screen in this case--or speak them into a microphone... Thank you for reading my work! And now, on to an afternoon of doing it!
By the way, here's my Amazon author page, with links to all my books!