Friday, September 11, 2009

I Will Not Forget

It's hard not to think back to where I was and what I was doing when I first heard about the attacks on our country on September 11, 2001.  I've heard it said many times that this event was my generation's JFK assassination.

I had just pulled in to the parking lot of Gold's Gym on the northside of Spokane where I was going to meet my best friend Tera for an early morning workout. I vividly remember us both sobbing on the elliptical machines as we watched the towers fall one after the other. (I will spare you all a recapping of the details, as I'm sure that you remember as well as I do what happened that day.)  From the gym, I headed downtown to work at Northwest Hair Co. where I was a receptionist.  We had the TV on all day and I continued my nearly uncontrollable crying.  I don't think I've ever cried more in a 24-hour period than I did that day. 

I lived alone in an area of town that is not-so-fondly referred to as Felony Flats so I never really associated with any of my neighbors.  But in the days that followed, I actually found myself spending time with some of them. One night that week there was a national moment of silence.  I remember sitting on the front porch of my apartment complex with my best friend and a couple of my neighbors eating pizza and reflecting on the events of the week and how it had impacted us.  We were all different ages and from different backgrounds and parts of the country.  We had four lit candles sitting in the center of our little circle - one for each of the targets in the attack; one for each of us.

I was only 21 years old and still in college on September 11, 2001.  I didn't know anyone who died in the attacks that day.  I didn't even know anyone who knew anyone who died.  But I was directly affected by the wars that came after the attacks.  Donnie, my best friend from high school, was a mechanic in the Air Force at the time and he was in one of the first deployments to Afghanistan.  He was gone for a year, leaving behind his wife and two-year-old daughter.  Barry, a man who is a close friend of mine and practically a brother to my husband, was sent to Iraq for a year instead of being able to retire after 20 years in the Army.  The stories of his experience there were horrible.

While my stepdaughters vaguely remember 9-11 (they were only 5 and 7 years old at the time), they remember their Uncle Barry spending time in Iraq.  I wonder how and when we will tell the twins about 9-11.  They really won't have anything to associate with it like the girls do.  But I want to make sure they have an appreciation for our country and the men and women who fight to protect us as soon as possible.

As I sit here writing this, I'm crying again. (I know. I can't help it!) My two-year-old son just walked up to me and touched my teary face and said, "It's OK, Mommy. It's OK." Then he gave me a big hug.  While I hope that someday the twins have some kind of an understanding of how we all felt that day and the same appreciate for our country and our troops that I feel, I pray to God that they never have an experience like 9-11 in their lifetimes.

The last thing I want to say is THANK YOU to all of the men and women of the armed services and their family and friends who support them.  My life and the lives of my children would not be the same without you.

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