Yesterday was the ten year anniversary of 9/11. It did not pass me by even though I didn’t comment on it. I thought about it all day. I think about it every day. It makes me sad, to my core, still. So much so that I can’t watch a documentary on it or listen to radio reports. I have to look away when something comes onto the TV and I have a hard time talking about it in anything more than facts. When I bring the human factor into it I can no longer bear it. I cried and cried and cried the day it happened and for many days after. Being from Boston I was terrified someone I knew was on one of those planes. My Father in Law (at the time he wasn’t my FIL, just my boyfriend’s father) was a Captain for an Continental, based out of Newark, and I was so scared until we heard from him. My Mother in Law (same situation) was a flight attendant for United. We were terrified for her. As more news came out, and I learned all of my loved ones were safe, I breathed a small sigh of relief. My dad called to tell me he was over Pennsylvania when the plane there went down and had to make an emergency landing. He wasn’t very far from the site of the crash. It was so close and so scary. I still remember the eerie silence from the skies as air traffic was shut down.
Along with the rest of this country, I was terrified with what was going to happen next. I lived in Europe during (what is now known as) the first Gulf War and it was quite scary at times. You didn’t know if the war would spill over to Europe, or if long-range missiles would be able to reach you and hit you when you played outside. We had bomb shelters built into every home we lived in – left over from WWI and WWII – and I would wonder if we would ever have to use them. We did not, thankfully, need them for anything other than wine storage.
I was there when the Berlin Wall came down. I have a piece of it somewhere. I was there when so many great things were happening for the people, yet there seemed to be an overwhelming sense of dread, like the other shoe could drop at any time and we would be scattered and scrambling, the peace over and the skies dark once again. I was in Zug, Switzerland for its 500 year celebration, and I was scared we would have to bike home in a hurry. The fear subsided over time.
We moved to Germany after Switzerland and it was in Germany that the fear set in again. I went to an International school – a school with around 180 countries represented. Many of the students were children of military officers and diplomats. We had armed guards at the school and a fence topped with razor wire. We stayed in the compound all day and were only released to people with proper ID. It brought my fear back again. I was young and idyllic and didn’t understand why people would want to hurt each other. I still don’t understand it.
And so it was that 9/11 brought back those gasp-inducing fears from my childhood and rendered me unable to function above a base level. I thought we would be living in that fear again; that uncertainty. We pulled together as a nation and tried to right the wrong. People signed up for the military, we were patriotic, we seemed to forget our differences (as long as someone wasn’t Muslim – which was not right or ok) and we banded together to try and help each other. In light of the tragedy and the prejudices going on, I was very proud of this country. Having lived in other cultures, I would always choose America and it made me proud to be from this country.
Brian rejoined the Army Guard after 9/11 – it was the only branch that would take him because of his previously broken leg that occurred while he was a Marine – and he went off to training. We weren’t engaged yet, so I spent time alone while he trained and drilled and learned his new role in life. We were married two or three days before his first deployment in 2003.
In the last ten years we have endured much and learned much and come out stronger because of it. I am sad that I lost the rest of my innocence that day. I am sad that most of us did. I had lived close enough to a war zone as a child that I thought I would be immune to it; immune to the panic and fear when things are uncertain in the future.
I did not lose a family member or friend on that day. I am so fortunate. I will never be able to express my condolences for the people that were lost that day. Words do not express my pain for them. It is with my heart that I send a silver thread of thoughts to them and hope they know that I stand beside them even though they do not know me and probably never will.
Brian and I were in Tunica, Mississippi yesterday. We stopped to get something to eat on our way back to Little Rock after visiting Memphis, TN. The TV was showing the memorial services and reports and it was hard to avoid looking. I mentioned to him that I couldn’t watch these programs. He said he can’t, either. He tried a couple of weeks ago and broke down. For both of us the memory is alive in our minds every day. As we sat there, eating delicious southern food on a highway lined with cotton, I told him, pointing to the TV, that we would not be here (meaning Tunica) if not for that. And it’s true. I don’t know when we would have found ourselves in Tunica, Mississippi, if 9/11 had never happened. I think our drive through the sparsely populated southern countryside was what we needed yesterday. Every day we are apart is enough of a reminder of things that transpired ten years ago, and that which happened next to lead us where we will be in the future.
The sacrifice we make daily is a sacrifice for the survivors of 9/11, which includes our whole country. Every single citizen. I am proud of Brian and all of our service men and women who work ceaselessly to defend our freedoms here in the USA. I have been where life isn’t as carefree as the one we live here. The people killed on 9/11, and those during the following wars will not be forgotten by me, my children and my family. We live our memorial daily. Ten years on the memories and images burned into my mind are still too raw and painful. May they all rest in peace and may we all find peace.