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That’s a question that is circulating all over the internet, the news, and conversation today.
Where were you?
There are certain events in our lives, that we always remember where we were when they happened.
In 1986, I was in gym class, when the principal announced the explosion of the Challenger.
In 1993, I was standing in my kitchen in Texas when I saw the news about the World Trade Center bombing.
In 1995, I was driving from Georgia to Tennessee when I heard on the radio about the Oklahoma City bombing.
Thirteen years ago, when it happened, where were you?
Every morning I would turn on the news, and watch it while I checked my e-mails. This particular morning, I had left a kids’ show on. My primary errand that day was going to be going to the store, because I had completely run out of milk. That is a major no-no when you have little ones. Then, I remember my cousin instant messaged me, and said “Turn on your tv! A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center!”
I quickly turned it on….. just in time to see the second plane.
It was no accident.
That moment, I stood in horror.
That moment, our lives were changed.
That moment, our hardest thing we faced as an army family, went from a “hardship Korea tour” to WAR.
But with whom? When? Where?
I could not believe what I had just seen. I ran into the bedroom, because Jeff was in bed. He had just returned that morning, from a 24 hour duty, and was sound asleep. I shook him awake, and told him, “We’re under attack!”
His immediate response was to call work, and head in. He was told to stay home, that the roads were already bumper to bumper, and it was an instant crack-down on security. All vehicles heading onto Fort Bragg were being completely and totally searched. What once was an open post, was now a web or parking lot. He would be contacted about what to do.
I remember sitting there, flipping between news channels for a better view. I had it down to which helicopter was which channel, and knew right where to turn for the view I wanted.
The debris. The People….Oh, the People!!!
And then the Pentagon.
I remember wondering how many more planes would crash? Would one crash there? Fort Bragg would be a huge military target! I remember praying for my family.
I remember the utter sorrow.
Then it happened.
Flipping channels….is that cloud what I think it is? Can it be? Flip the channels, another view.
The first tower fell.
I wanted to scream. All I could think of, was how many emergency responders and countless others just died before my eyes!? My insides were like water. I felt myself melt inside with horror and sadness and anger.
How could this happen?!
I remember praying, “Lord, please don’t let the other one collapse too!”
But it did.
That morning, I couldn’t tear my eyes from the screen. I couldn’t leave what was happening. A part of me felt like if I walked away, that I was turning my back on all those people there in New York who were suffering the worst thing ever. I know it seems strange, but I felt like that was my way of being there for them at that moment.
Eventually I had to pull myself away and go to the store.
The whole way to the store, I had the radio on. I remember passing a police car…but there were few other cars on the roads.
At one point, I passed a road construction crew. I remember thinking, “Do they know?”
“Should I tell them?”
“How could I tell them?”
I walked into WalMart, and they had pulled large TVs to the front of the store, so everyone at the registers could see what was going on.
There weren’t many people there. I remember looking at the cashier. She was in shock. I was in shock. We just looked at each other…each knowing that we were all changed that day. Each knowing our future was going to be nothing like we imagined.
And we were right.
I think that day changed us all in one way or another. Maybe it changed some people more than others, but in some way we were all touched and changed that day.
Our military family went from just being another military family – overlooked, taken for granted maybe. To being the center of attention on a national scale. We all knew that what had just happened was going to have a profound effect on our lives.
Looking at my children, I wondered what this was going to mean for them, for us.
It meant going to bed many nights, wondering where my husband was, if he was safe, would I hear from him again? It meant children spending their entire lives saying too many goodbye and sending letters instead of having Dad there. Dad seeing his kids grow up in photos. Goodbyes to loved ones that would never come home.
But there were good things that happened that fateful day thirteen years ago. We came together as a nation. For just a moment, we weren’t white, black, brown. We were Americans. We weren’t political parties. We were Americans. We set aside our differences for just a little while, and we came together and cared about the things that mattered. One another. Our families. Our neighbors.
When I went to church that week, the pews were packed. Folding chairs were placed down the aisles for extra seating, and people were standing along the walls.
People took the time to be thankful for what they had. The military began receiving a great deal of support from people they never had from before.
A long time has passed, we still have people serving and fighting overseas on this day – thirteen years later that we remember what started it all.
And there are still organizations and companies that are doing their best to support the military and their families. I’m grateful to every one of them.
It’s been a long haul. And we’re still trucking.
Take the time to remember today, on Patriots Day. To love your family. Help your neighbor.
And remember… what unites is stronger than what would tear us apart.