Thursday, September 11, 2008

I will never forget...

Today marks the 7th anniversary of the terrosit attacks on our country on 11 September 2001. With each year that passes, this date hits me harder. Maybe it is the fact that I am getting older, but most likely it is the fact that I am a military wife, and because of this horrible day seven years ago, my life was forever changed.

When hubby & I got married in March 2001, I had absolutely no reservations about Bobby getting ready to leave for the military. As one of my best friends had pointed out, it was peacetime. I knew that yes, there would be seperations, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the scale of what was to come.

We were living in Wichita Falls, TX in September of that year. We had rented a tiny apartment with another couple, Julie & Justin, and their 2 year old daughter, while Bobby and Justin were in tech school at Sheppard AFB. The guys were in night classes and didn't come home until about 4am, so on the morning of September 11th, they were sleeping. I was up and rushing around the apartment to get to my breastfeeding class at the base hospital on time, as I was 8 months pregnant with Noah. Julie's daughter was watching a movie in the living room, because we only had 2 channels on our tv-NBC and CBS. I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom when Julie stuck her head in and said "Hey. Your mom's on the phone and sounds really upset. She needs to talk to you". I was exasperrated, because I was running behind, and my mom tends to be dramatic. And I couldn't figure out what was so important that she'd be calling me on a weekday morning (she is a school teacher). I said hello, and she said "You need to sit down." I replied in a snarky voice, that I didn't have time to sit down, because I was running late and just tell me what she needed to say. She asked me to turn on the tv and watch...she didn't have the words to explain. I went out in to the living room and told Julie that my mom said something big was going on and I needed to turn on the news. Julie's daughter was anything but thrilled with me that I shut off "Bambi", but I assured her I'd turn it right back on. As soon as the tv switched over to NBC, we saw the second plane hit the second tower, and we couldn't believe it. We ran down the hallway to the bedrooms where Bobby & Justin slept, and made them come watch with us. We were in a haze for a few minutes, everyone trying to wrap their heads around what we just witnessed. I left to try to make it to my appointment on time, just to be turned away at the gate becuase the base had all but shut down. I came back home and we just sat around watching tv most of the day. I remember there were lots of phone calls from worried family members wondering if Bobby and Justin would be going to the desert and how it affected their training. In the afternoon, when it was time for the guys to head to class, they walked from our apartment to the gate, because the line of cars was clear out to the highway. It was mission-essential personnel only, so a few minutes later they were back at the apartment becuase classes had been cancelled.

Now, this is going to make me sound alot older than my 26 years, but I remember when we first were in Texas, that I could drive onto the base without so much as slowing down when I went through the gate. As long as you had your base pass on your windsheild, or your visitor's pass on your dashboard, you didn't even have to roll your window down when you got to the gate. Immediately after the attack, every single car was searched before it was granted admission to the base. We lived immediately outside the gates, and if we drove on the base to get groceries, we would have to leave literally an hour before we wanted or needed to be somewhere, so that we could give us enough time to wait in the line and get searched. By the time we got to our base assignment in Missouri a few months later, they were only searching every few cars. And now of course it's not as tight, but you still have to show your ID. It sure felt weird to me the first time that they only asked to see the driver's ID card. And I can't even imagine that the day will ever come again where it will be as simple as it was in the days before Setpember 11.

We were also living in England at the time of the London Underground Bombings, and all of the feelings that I felt on September 11 came rushing back to me. The fear was on a whole new level, because we were not in our home country. We were on foreign soil, and the British news shows were blaming the Americans for getting their Prime Minister Tony Blair to agree and send forces to Iraq along with the US military. They said that if it weren't for the US talking Blair into being allies, they never would have had their subways and buses bombed. We lived on the base in England, and we were about an hour or so from London, but the base was still on heightened security, and we were forbidden from travelling to London for almost a week. And the entire 3 years we lived in England, I remeber that almost every weekend there were scheduled protests of the British civilians picketing at the main gates of our base. So when the tube & buses were bombed, I was scared to leave the base for months. And the scaries thing of all, was that we were supposed to be down in London that day. My family had decided to come and visit us for a month and do the tourist thing. They were originally coming mid-June and leaving mid-July, and that was the day we had planned to spend the day down in London, no doubt getting on the tube & the double decker buses. But God had other plans for us, and my family ended up getting a better deal on flights if they came on Memorial day and left the end of June. That fact still haunts me to this day.

I will always have tears and heartache on this day, no matter how many years pass. I still pray for the families who were directly affected by deaths of loved ones, and those like me, who are military families and have been affected by extended deployments because of these horrendous acts.

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