9-11. It’s a day none of us will ever forget. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I was still a soldier then and I had just walked in to Group S-1 when the news of the first tower came on. At first, everyone still thought it was just a tragic accident. I was in my Group commander’s office, watching CNN with my friend and fellow soldier Monica when news of the second plane came on. In that moment, we all knew that our lives had irrevocably changed.
Life changes in so many ways in the wake of something like that. It changes in the obvious ways, but it changes in a million, tiny ways, too. The constant deployments, the nonstop training,… all of those things are the obvious, expected things when you live a military life. But everything about your family dynamic changes, too. I was pregnant with Scott that day. Within hours, post was locked down and missions changed. Corey was immediately assigned to QRF, a security team for the post that operated in shifts of 24 hours on/24 hours on, 12 hours on/12 hours off. A month later, when it was time for Scott to be born, we had to schedule his birth with a planned induction to be able to have him during the 24 hour off period so Corey could be there. Even the birth of a child had to be planned. Corey and I were married about six months later, and even now after 9½ years of marriage, we have spent far more time apart than together because of that one fateful day.
It changed Donovan, too. That day was his 9th birthday. For several years after that day, he refused to celebrate his birthday on that day. No matter how many years go by, it is always going to take away from what is supposed to be a day of celebration and happiness. He grew up that day and in the days immediately following it, in ways a 9yo shouldn’t have had to.
But some beautiful things came out of that time and in the years since. The following Saturday was supposed to have been Donovan’s birthday party. But all of his friends were military, too, and all of their parents were now on 7 day a week work shifts. So no party. Donovan and I went to pick up his birthday cake and while we were in the commissary, he turned to me and told me that instead of taking it home, we should get more, and some plates, forks and napkins and take to my (and his dad’s) unit and share it with everyone because they deserved it for working so hard. So that is what we did. We took it to my office and cut it up and delivered it to every person in the company.
And the way people came together in the wake of tragedy was beautiful. Personal feelings and differences were pushed aside because there was something bigger at hand. People helped each other, supported each other. It was a side of humanity that was wonderful to be a part of. It is something that, as the years have passed, many seem to have forgotten.
That’s what we need to get back to. The feeling of community, of working together. That is what makes us strong, as individuals AND as a country.
Remember,… remember those that we lost that day and those in the years since. Remember, too, the sacrifices that families have made in support of those who protect us. The military, the firemen, the police, rescue workers, the myriad of volunteers. Remember,…