Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where Were You?

Where were you the morning of September 11, 2001?

Another anniversary and sometimes it's easy to forget the horror of what we witnessed on tv. Well, maybe not forget, but maybe the intensity is gone. I was living in Germany where my husband was stationed. It was early afternoon there and I was making a potato salad to take to the chapel's single airman/soldier dinner. I had the Today show on as usual and it began. When the 2nd tower was hit I was incredulous and when the first tower fell I started crying and called my husband at work. He hadn't heard what had happened. One of my neighbors came downstairs and she must have seen the horror in my face and she hugged me tight. I couldn't believe what I had witnessed and yet I carried on with my tasks all the while glancing at the tv. I just didn't know what to do, what I could do. All I could do was pray and carry on.

I called the chapel trying to find out whether or not the dinner would go on. I couldn't get through. I thought for sure the dinner would be cancelled but since I wasn't positive I went ahead and got in my car to take the potato salad there. I had to go through the post gate and it was chaos. They weren't letting everyone on the post. They let me through when I told them what I was doing and when I got to the chapel there was only the coordinator for the dinner. It was cancelled.

I came home and wanted to watch everything and learn everything and yet I did not. Our boys were in their early teens and my husband didn't want them to be scarred by my intense interest. I am a news junkie and when events unfold I can easily watch the news all day. They were especially worried as our post housing area was not behind the safety of a fence. We had German armored vehicles outside the posts that were fenced in and the boys saw this every day as they rode the bus to school. There was no such security for us and there were rumors all over the place about unknowns watching our community. A number of days in they surrounded our community with rolls of razor wire and set up a gate to go in and out. The boys felt safer and for the most part their lives went on without too much worries. Our lives went on.

When I came back to the states in 2002 and talked with others about their experiences I realized how far removed we were from "real" worry and danger. Friends had spouses in the Pentagon that day, people we now know were there that day, lost people they knew. At the time we had scoured the rolls and were "relieved" there was no one we knew. We all look for that personal connection. And while we didn't lose someone we knew, we felt the loss. We were changed. Our country was changed.

I don't forget. I go for days without thinking about it but there will be something that triggers a memory, a question. And I remember, not just on the anniversary but many days throughout the year. I think about the people in the towers. I think about those in the Pentagon. I think about the people on the planes. I think about families who lost loved ones. I especially think about the firefighters and police....those who were sent out to rescue. So today I ask you to remember and pray. That's what I'll be doing.