Do you remember where you were on this day, 9 years ago?
It was about 6am. I was getting ready to go to early morning seminary, blow-drying my hair, listening to the radio, as usual. I turned the blow dryer off for just a minute, and heard the dj say 'another plane has crashed. two planes have crashed in New York, it's on every chanel' and of course, being the impulsive 16-almost-17 year old that I was, didn't wait to hear the rest, just ran into the living room where my mom was getting ready for work, where my grandma was waiting to ride with her, where my brother was studying his spelling words, turned on the tv, and we all watched in awe as they played, over and over, the clip of the second plane hitting the tower. It was the scariest day of my life. My stomach was in knots. I had no idea what this meant... were we at war. I thought so, but had no real clue what would happen, what chain reaction this one event (which I would later learn was just one in a series of many) would bring to pass.
I remember that the rest of the day , even the rest of the week, at school, there was little real instruction. Instead, we all took turns piling into the classrooms and offices with tv's to watch the latest news - how many people they had found alive how many bodies they had pulled from the rubble, how many people were frantically searching for loved ones. We saw the white, ash-covered people walking, dazed, not sure where to go or what to do. It was terrifiying.
I was a Junior in high school at the time. I do remember how so many of my classmates had already, in those few days following the attacks on our homes, made the decision to join the Armed Forces, to defend our country, to try to ensure that this would never happen again.
I remember how this event, meant to scatter and terrify our country, caused us all to pull together, to trust and help and love one another, even if it didn't last. I remember knowing that this day in history would forever change all of our lives.
Today, I have encountered so many consequences of this event. I have seen the casket of a soldier, an amazing friend I had known almost all our lives, be laid to rest. I have seen photos of a boy, the age of my baby brother, an athlete and great person, who lost his legs in the service of his country. I have met men and women who have been in battle, who have seen and heard things that they will not talk about, and who have come home changed. I have seen first hand the support people give the service members, thanking them for all they have done, and also thanking their families for being such a support to them as they fight for freedom. I have also seen the ugly side of that - I have seen people protesting funerals of men killed in duty, people saying that these heroes deserved to die, that they were fighting a war that was wrong. I have seen people try to pick fights, try to demoralize these amazing men and women who fight for the right for anyone to say what they want to say, these service members who give up many of their rights to ensure that those rights are kept safe and sacred for the civilian public.
I am so proud to say that my husband is one of those amazing men who has volunteered to stand for freedom, to stand for what is right, and to try to make a difference in the state of the world today. He feels that if he can help one person gain the right to express himself, give one person the knowledge and training he will need to keep his family, neighborhood and country safe, give one person the means to support himself, he will feel as though he has accomplished something great.
I want to close this by honoring all of those who were lost in the horrible attacks on this day, September 11, nine years ago. I want to honor the soldiers, the police officers, firemen, healthcare providers, and everyone else who lost their lives, or helped those in harm's way. There truly are people out there who care for others. We all need to be like them.