I remember, as a child, hearing my parents say they would never forget where they were and what they were doing the day "they killed Kennedy". I also remember wondering how one little thing could stand out in their memories so strongly that they would always remember such mundane things as sweeping the floor or buying a pack of gum.
I understand now.
Ten years ago, at 9:45am CST, I was playing a game of Yahoo! Literati, after having just put my 3-month-old son down for a nap. I had just written a note to myself to call my granddad in the afternoon to wish him a happy birthday. When I looked up at the chat screen, I saw "a plane just flew into the World Trade Center". I remember thinking - like a lot of people - what a terrible joke that was.
We are a military family; we were living in base housing on a base in the South well-known for housing many of the upper-echelon military schools. There is always a treat-level with bases like that. As soon as I turned on the t.v. and watched the tragedy unfold, I tried to call my husband at work. Apparently all the other spouses did the same; the phone lines were shut down due to call volume. The only thing I could think of to do was hold my baby boy, I suppose in an effort to protect him in case our base was the next target.
The base was locked down for security purposes; only essential personnel could get in and even they underwent strict vehicle and identification searches. Military patrols suddenly were driving through housing. My husband, who worked in the hospital at the time, was suited up in bullet-proof gear and was handed an m-16. He began working 18-hour shifts, guarding the gates to the base. There is information he was given and precautions he was told to take that I will never know about.
My father-in-law's job at the time was Airborn Command and Control - he worked in the plane that flies alongside Air Force One when its in the sky. His plane immediately took off; we didn't hear from him for weeks. We had no idea where he was or when he would come home.
I am, by nature, a control freak. The attacks of 9/11 took away my control. I couldn't just run out to the store anymore. My husband was suddenly walking around with a semi-automatic weapon. I had no information other than what was on television. In an instant, my safe, secure military life was under a major threat and I was completely powerless to do anything about it.
I was raised by a military member; I'm used to not being privy to certain information. I'm used to certain parts of bases being off-limits to me. But I never, ever thought I would see men and women with weapons guarding places like base gas stations and mini-marts. The base child development center even had an armed guard.
Ten years later, my kids are learning about 9/11. Unlike many parents I allow my kids to view, with me, photos and video from the terrible event. I want them to understand what happened, and the impact it had upon our country. I'm not referring to the horrible loss of thousands of lives, although that is important to remember. I am not referring to the boom in military enlistments or the fact that our troops are still overseas. I want them to understand how such a tragedy brought our country back to a point of brotherhood. Because of this tragedy, people were suddenly reaching out to one another in love and friendship. Estranged family members came together; people found themselves starting to care about their fellow man again. The citizens of the United States joined together and became a stronger nation; a phoenix from the ashes of the terrorist acts.
This is what I want to remember; this is what I want my kids to understand when THEY ask why I will always remember playing an online game at 9:45 a.m. on September 11, 2001. I remember thousands lost, and millions brought together in love.
I hope on this day that you will all take a moment to think of your loved ones, and to lift in prayer those lost on that terrible day and the days that followed, as well as those lost overseas in service of our great country. I also ask anyone reading this blog who lost someone that day to please leave a comment with the name of your loved one so that we may share in your memory and lift that person up as well.
My thoughts are with you all.