I guess everyone remembers where they were on 9/11. I heard one commentator say that each generation has an event that stands out in their memory and is commemorated each year, one of such worldwide importance that it cannot, nor should not, be forgotten. For our parents it was Pearl Harbor. For mine it is the day our country was attacked, September 11, 2001.
Some will remember what a beautiful fall morning it was. To be honest, I don’t remember what the weather was like, I just remember the phone call to our housing in Weisbaden, Germany. A friend of mine called in the afternoon there (there is a 6 hour time difference between the east coast of the US and Germany) and told me our country was under attack, turn on the TV. I turned on the TV in time to watch the second tower being hit. The first one was already in flames, and the pentagon had already been hit. I grew up in northern New York. I went to a state college and I knew people who worked in New York City. One of my former roommates worked in the financial district. My husband was in the military at the time, eligible to retire in just a few months, and we knew people stationed at the Pentagon. I felt my heart sink and all I could do was watch in horror as first one tower fell, and then another. My 6 year old son came home from school just as the second tower fell. He was confused, small wonder since the adults standing around him were just as confused. And then in a heartbeat, everything changed.
I don’t know what it was like here in the states. I’ve talked to people, asked where they were and what they were doing, but unless you’ve lived through it yourself, you can’t imagine what it really was like. Just like you can’t imagine how our lives changed in Germany. For the families there, we didn’t see our service men and women for days. They were called out to patrol housing areas and gates to bases. Each car was searched inside and out before they were allowed to enter either a housing area or a military base. German police rode through our housing area on horseback sometimes giving the kids rides on their beautiful mounts. We rarely left our housing area, it took too long to go anywhere as there were long lines of cars and people being searched. Just getting groceries would take hours. Overnight there were fences built around the department of defense schools, the schools were closed for a week and when they opened you had to accompany your child with an identification card in order for them to be allowed on the school grounds. There were armed guards at the fence, only one gate was opened at first, and though military children have seen full flack gear on their parents, they weren’t used to seeing them with an M-16 waiting at the gate to their school. The first few days the guards handed out candy, just so they wouldn’t be scared. But sadly, after a week, it became “normal” and life moved on. Many years later, I learned that a sleeper cell had been discovered in Weisbaden…I’m glad I didn’t know it when I lived there!!
But now we’ve moved on, the fear is not as great. We are becoming complacent again. People don’t believe in the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. They protest at funerals of service members who have paid the ultimate price, adding more pain and grief to the already grieving family and friends who are so proud of their loved one’s service. So, even though it grieves me in ways I cannot communicate in words, I watch the shows and listen to their stories. I cry for the kids who have lost a parent, who won’t be able to share the triumphs and tragedies of their lives with them. I feel sad to the core, and I have been praying nearly continually for those closely affected by the events of 9/11. And I fervently pray that our nation will not forget and keep vigilant as we maintain the security of our country.
Last night at church we prayed for a family whose husband/father is leaving for Afghanistan. My husband had been deployed to a “hot spot” before and I could see fear and trepidation in her eyes. Not only does she fear for her husband’s safety, both mentally and physically, but she knows she will have to deal with her children’s fears, and she will have to shoulder all the responsibility of running the household while he is gone. The nights are lonely, the chores become insurmountable at times. (I know, my husband was absent from my son’s life for about 3 years between the ages of 18 months and 7 years old). So even though we only “remember” 9/11 one day a year, the effects ripple through people’s lives continually. Remember to pray for the victim’s families, the first responders who lived through that horrible tragedy, the survivors who probably relive those memories and possibly suffer survivors guilt, and for the service men and women who continue to offer themselves a living sacrifice for our security and freedom. I will be praying, I hope you’ll join me. Where two or more are gathered in His name, He is there also.