Monday, September 12, 2011

It does affect me.

I can't believe it has been ten years.  It seems like just yesterday, but was a lifetime ago.  I was living in a little one bedroom, furnished apartment, working 12 hour night shifts.  I had worked the night of the tenth, came home that morning, took a shower and went straight to bed.  I slept with a TV on at that point (before kids started sharing my bed and/or room), and kept hearing the words "plane", "crash" "World Trade Center", just over and over.  At that time, I had no idea what the World Trade Center even was, I'm not a city-type person.  I had no concept of how deeply the hatred of Americans runs in other parts of the world.  My biggest concern was how not to enrage my ex husband. 

Those words kept repeating, I thought I was dreaming.  Eventually, the repetition of those words was enough to wake me.  I still remember rolling over, and focusing on the TV, just in time to see one of the towers collapsing.  Once I was awake and coherent, I was piecing together what the news was saying, what was going across the screen.  I figured out that what I had seen was, in fact, real, and that it was a re-play, not live action.  I had slept through the entire attack. 

At first I, being an optimist, thought what a bizarre series of accidents.  I didn't WANT to believe that anyone could have done something so horrendous on purpose.  I didn't WANT to accept that we had been attacked.  On purpose.  But, by the time I headed back into work at 7:00 that evening,  my heart was broken, I had to accept that this was a planned, purposeful attack. 

What went through my mind?  For starters, the evenings when I was in Junior High, watching on TV as Bush, Sr talked about Operation Desert Storm.  I knew in my heart that we were at war again.  It may not have been declared, but it was a war.   Next, I wanted my mom.  Nothing else would do, I wanted my mom, at least to talk to her.  I knew nothing had happened in our little hick town neck of the woods, but I still needed to know she was OK.  She works for the  local school system, and was in class when it happened, but I still needed to talk to her.  I also remember thinking how broken hearted my Popaw would have been, if he had been alive to see it.  He had been dead just  over four months. It's funny the things that ran through my mind along with the fear.  I was actually afraid to head out to work, wondering what more could happen.

I worked in a nursing home, and some of the more lucid residents were very upset, several told about their experiences with Pearl Harbor, wondering if it were the beginning of World War III. 

I don't think I was as heartbroken then about the attacks as I am now, as a mother.  I think I was more numb than anything that day.  I wanted to be in denial about it, but how could I be, when the footage was everywhere. Every channel.  Round the clock.  NO escaping it. 

I remember passing the Speedway gas station on my way in to work, and there was a traffic jam.  Everyone in town was trying to get gas. Everything was in slow motion.

I remember the footage of people jumping out of the towers. That still haunts me.  How terrifying their last minutes on earth must have been.  How horrible, that they chose to jump to their deaths rather than face the inferno inside those buildings.

I remember what a perfect, clear, beautiful day it was, the sort of day you savor as you know you're headed fast into the winter months.  The sky was so blue here that day, as it looked on TV in New York.  I kept thinking, in my confused wonderings, "How can this be real?  It's such a pretty day.  How can this be happening on such a perfectly sunny day?"  Like, bad things should only happen on cold, rainy, foggy, gloomy days or something.

As time passed, and the numbness, the shock, wore off, other things occurred to me. Thousands of moms lost their kids.  Kids lost their parents.  Wives lost husbands, husbands lost wives. Sisters lost brothers.  Everyone who died was loved by someone, there was someone to mourn each and every life lost.  We, as a country mourned,  but imagine having lost your best friend, your lover, the father of your children, having to raise those kids alone, and explain to them what happened.    Someone, some group of someones, did that to us.  On purpose. Dammit, on purpose.

Now, as a mom, I'm faced with knowing that the day is coming that I will have to explain to Aidan, to Rebekah, to Gracie, exactly what happened on that day in September 2001.  A good friend of mine was faced with that this very year, she has a first grader and a kindergartner.  She just gave them the bare bones version of it, but even that is scarier than any ghost tale they may hear at a campout.  This is real, and was done ON PURPOSE.

I've seen some really disturbing opinions today.  People saying they just don't care. Because it doesn't affect them.  Saying that we, as a country, are making too big a deal of it.  We need to just leave it alone, why are we dedicating a whole day to something that happened ten years ago.  That line of thought sickens me.  I am very proud to live in America. I'm proud of my home, of my town, of my state, of my country.  I love what America has always represented, I love the very thing our attackers hate,  our Freedom.

If you live in America, if you're an American, then 9/11 DOES affect you, whether you want to believe it or not.  Even though I was no where near any of the attacks or carnage, I was attacked that day. So were you.  So was your neighbor, so was the man on the street, the cashier at the grocery store, the old woman in the nursing home, the baby being born.  America, our way of life, our security and stability, was attacked.  Those who DID die that day and in the days following, they DESERVE to be honored, remembered, prayed for. The survivors, who lost someone they loved, deserve our prayers, our recognition. 

I have a friend who is a widow now.  No, her husband didn't die on 9/11.  He died in August of 2010 in Afghanistan.  Her kids have to go to a grave to visit Daddy.  My first crush, a guy who was at my 6th grade camp as a counselor, was one of the first local boys killed in the war that was sparked by these attacks. 

Our way of life has changed in so many ways.  Just traveling by plane has become an ordeal.  The security measures are in place for a reason, and I'm glad of it, but I wish there was no need for such drastic measures.  Gas prices are up.  The economy is in the toilet.  People have lost hope in the American Dream. All because a group of terrorists attacked US.  On purpose. 

There've been other American tragedies.  Pearl Harbor.  Katrina, and most recently Joplin.  My heart breaks for all of those lost, but 9/11 was just different.  Yeah, death is death is death.  But.  Pearl Harbor, God, that was bad.  Of course I don't remember it, but reading about it, visiting the Memorial,  all of that really hurt my heart.  However, those killed, they were enlisted. They were attacked in a war, they were pretty well informed of the risks.  I don't think for a minute that what I've just said makes their deaths any less tragic.  However,  innocent civilians were targeted and killed on 9/11.  Not as an act of war, but as an act of terror.  All those people did was go to work. That's it.  And never came home.

Katrina and Joplin were acts of nature.  Horrible, scary acts of nature.  People died, the damage and destruction was devastating.  But, what makes the attacks on 9/11 so much more frightening to me, is that there was a human being behind them.  A person, with a mother and a father, not only planned this, but executed it as well.  How sick, depraved, evil, must a person be to even imagine doing something like that?  And then to organize enough equally evil, depraved, sick people to execute it?  That, my friend, scares me.  Until that September day ten years ago, I had so much faith in humanity, I believed that most people are good.  Then that innocence was stolen.  I still want to believe that most people are good people, but now I know that true evil really exists, and I am a target, as are all Americans.  Just for being American.  Yes, it affects me.

Do I let that affect how I live my life?  Not really.  I pray a lot, for my safety, for the safety of my loved ones, I pray for our leaders, for our soldiers.  I still enjoy life. I love my husband, our kids, my mom, my family.  

I think that September 11 should be a National Holiday.  A day to remember and mourn what we've lost.  A day to be with family, to rejoice in what we haven't. 

Also, we should all take time to thank a service man or woman for what they do to defend our way of life.  We take so much for granted, but really, how hard is it to say those 2 words? Thank. You. 

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