Ten years ago (September 2011), I wrote:
I cannot believe that it has already been ten years since September 11, 2001. At times it seems like it was yesterday– I can vividly remember everything that happened that day. I overslept (big surprise). My roommate, Taryn, woke me up with the news that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane; I thought that she was joking and I was annoyed with her for waking me up. I went into the living room and turned on the TV. Still consumed in feelings of disbelief, I watched in horror. I called Jacob and he immediately headed over. He too was amazed and in shock. We were all glued to the news for the next several hours watching the events of the day unfold. I remember that we all ate Eggo waffles for breakfast, and even still, every time I have one I think of September 11. We continued watching throughout the attack on the Pentagon and the crashing of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. In between watching the events, we talked about what we would have done in the same situations. We heard that gas prices were going to go up, so we each took our cars and to fill them up. When we got gas that afternoon, it was $1.35 a gallon. We went out later that evening to get groceries and it was up to $4.25. None of us went to our classes and later found out that they had in fact been canceled. Most of them were for the remainder of the week.
Our lives, like the lives of many Americans, changed that day. While none of us were directly affected by the attacks, as a country we were. We (at the age of 19) were too young to remember anything like this happening in America before. The most horrific war that we knew was the Gulf War – not even a war when compared to the great tragedies of the World Wars or even Korea or Vietnam. We were not old enough to remember a brutal and deliberate attack on American soil, such as Pearl Harbor. While we did know of things happening to Americans abroad, they never seemed as important because they weren’t happening here. We, as well as others, remained in awe. Horrified that something like this could happen in the US, we discussed the possibilities for the future. We debated whether or not America should go to war and blow up Afghanistan as a whole, or take it slow to limit the number of innocent lives lost. As one would expect, emotions did get the better of us at times and we thought the US should use any and all force to seek revenge.
In the decade since September 11, 2001, my life has drastically changed. I’m no longer the naive 19-year-old pondering what America should do in response to the attacks on 9/11. I’ve gotten married, had four kids, and proudly watched as Jacob enlisted and went off to war. As a military family the events of September 11 and the subsequent “War on Terror” touch our lives more closely than I ever would have expected a decade ago.
I’m envious of those that are able to keep their kids shielded from the events of September 11. Kids that are able to maintain their innocence for a while longer, trusting that people are inherently good. As “Army Brats”, our kids have been exposed to war, death, and the tragedies of 9/11 younger than most. In school, they learned about what happened on September 11 and seemed to grasp most of it. They understand that Daddy went to Iraq last year because of what happened that day.
However, this year we went into even more depth explaining it to them. We watched “Nick News: The Story of 9/11” earlier this week and it did a great job of answering most of their questions. And then this morning, for the first time ever, they watched the events unfold as they did a decade ago. Christopher and Nicholas sat there in shock as they watched the planes fly into the towers. Nicholas was deeply offended when the plane hit “the GREAT Pentagon”, and they were both in awe as Flight 93 went down in PA.
I’m thankful that I got to spend today at the park playing with my kids. And thankful that all six of us got to sit down to dinner together tonight. I’m thankful for those that lost their lives a decade ago and those that have lost their lives fighting for our country since then. I’m thankful, and proud, to be an American.
(sorry about the poor video quality– it’s ten years old, too!)
Three years ago (September 2018), I wrote:
It’s been seven years since I sat down and wrote that, and it seems like everything has changed and nothing has changed all at the same time. Jacob got hurt and was subsequently medically retired so we’re no longer an Active Duty Army family, but a Retired Army family. We’ve added another kiddo and moved away from Fort Bragg and the constant reminder of Army life, but it’s still such a big part of our lives.
Because of 9/11, our life is completely different than the one I’d envisioned for us seventeen years ago. We live on the opposite side of the country from most of our family, we have friends spread throughout the world, we’ve buried more friends than most our age, and we have endured more trials and sacrifice than I ever would have thought possible, but that all comes with the territory when you’re a military family.
We spent this past weekend together as a family, and while we were at Disney World, the fact that September 11 was looming on the horizon was never far from my mind. I am grateful that the seven of us had a chance to spend time in one of our favorite places; a chance to be carefree and light, before the weight of today was upon us.
I plan to spend today like I have every other September 11th for the past sixteen years- watching the news coverage of the attacks, crying as the names of those that were lost are read, and praying for the families of those that were affected as well as all families, because really, we were ALL affected by the events of September 11th. I plan to hold my kids a little bit tighter, and a little bit longer, because life is short and it can all change in the blink of an eye.
I’m sure that we’ll discuss the events of September 11th at the dinner table as we do every year. They were all born post 9/11 so none of them have any memories of what life was like before then. They’ve always known war, they’ve always known terrorism; in fact, we’ve been fighting the War on Terror for their entire lives, and they live, to some extent, with the fear that this could happen again. But, their lives have also been filled with immense patriotism, pride in the military, and the desire to make the world a better place.
“The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit. Instead, we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic and religious freedom, the rule of law, and respect for human life. We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom.” – Rudy Giuliani
While those brutal attacks seventeen years ago threatened our way of life, ultimately, they were not successful. While many lives were lost that day, those that survived did so with the resolve to fight for our country, for our way of life, for our freedom, and that spirit continues on today. Even in the midst of the current partisan politics, I truly believe that most people are trying to do what they think is best for the country. People are still fighting for America, and I hope, still proud to be Americans.
And today (September 2011):
No longer a naive 19-year-old college student, 29-year-old Army wife, or 36-year-old wife of a medically retired US Soldier, I am now an Army widow.
While 9/11 didn’t directly impact my life at the time, it played a tremendous role in how my life turned out. 9/11 and the subsequent War on Terror is why Jacob eventually enlisted in the military. It’s why he got hurt and subsequently died from those injuries.
Even now as an Army widow, I still agree with what I wrote before Jake died.