What are some similarities and differences between the theme of the article "Empty Sky" by Suzanne McCabe and the song of the same title by Bruce Springsteen?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the strongest similarities between both the song and the article is their authors.  The authors are both New Jersey natives who experienced the gaping loss caused as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11.  Both of them speak from the perspective of New Jersey people who could always look across to New York and see the Twin Towers.  Springsteen never runs away from his roots as a New Jersey kid and guy where the world is always perceived through the lens of his state.  McCabe articulates this same condition with how the events of September 11 impacted her personally:  

On the evening of September 11, 2001, six dads from my hometown of Rumson, New Jersey, didn’t come home from work. Their cars sat empty in the parking lot of the commuter ferry they’d taken into Manhattan that morning. Their seats at the dinner table have been empty ever since.

My brother Mike was one of those dads.

For both authors, the reality of September 11 was personal, delivered from the point of view of New Jersey citizens who saw a major part of their worlds shattered as a result of that day.

A significant difference would be the ending tone of each work sample.  McCabe's article ends with a note of restoration, a "silver lining" of the community that formed as a result of the attacks:  "If there’s a silver lining, it’s that our friends and people we didn’t even know were there to look out for us. They stuck by us when we needed them most. My family and so many others lost a lot on 9/11. We also incurred a debt that we can never repay."  For McCabe, one of the few moments of grace out of the pain of the attacks was that people were there and thus, while the sky was empty, the Earth was not. Springsteen's song is decidedly darker, with the refrain of  "I woke up this morning to an empty sky" as a reminder of the pain experienced to close the song.  This difference in tone and attitude towards the day marks a significant divergence between both works.

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