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Friday, September 11, 2009


I will never forget. For my generation, 8 years ago today was our Pearl Harbor, our Nov. 22, 1963. It is a day that was engraved on my brain.

Eight years ago today I was a carefree college junior. Fall semester had started the previous week, but I was home still, packing for my study abroad. I was to leave on the 13th for 3 months in Mexico to further my Spanish studies.

I had worked the night before, the 5pm to 1am shift, at Kroger's, as I had done all summer long. I had only three things planned for that day. I had a haircut scheduled, my last night of work, and a quick trip to my mom's school to visit her classroom. I slept in a little, knowing it would probably be my last chance to do so for awhile. After waking, I made a bowl of cereal and sat down in the family room to watch TV while I ate.

The show "Live with Regis and Kelly" was what came on when I turned on the TV. I saw an image of the Twin Towers, one of them on fire. At first I wondered, "what new movie are they discussing?" After several seconds I realized that the scene was too eerily for a movie. It was too quiet. The screen shot was still. There was no panning like there would be in a movie. I began to pay attention to the TV. Suddenly the second plane hit the towers, and that's when I realized this was live, it was real, it wasn't a promo for an upcoming movie. I hurriedly finished my breakfast and got dressed. By then I had some semblance of knowledge of what was occurring.

I left for my mom's school. She needed the digital camera and had left it at home, so I was taking it to her. As I drove, I listened to the radio. I don't remember which station. It didn't matter. They all had it on. As I drove, one of the towers collapsed. I cried the rest of the way there.

At her school, I signed in at the office, where the staff was gathered around a radio or little TV. I went upstairs to my mom's room, tears streaking me face, wheezing. When I got up there, she became all worried about me. I had just gotten over a case of pneumonia, had asthma, and was getting ready to leave the country. She thought I was sick again, too sick to go on my trip. I tried getting out to her that we had been attacked, but finally managed to say, "You'd be having trouble breathing too if you cried all the way here and then ran up to the third floor." At that, she dragged me out to the hallway, and I was able to tell her we'd been attacked. At first she didn't believe me, but then realized that I had to be telling the truth. She got the TV on her floor and turned it on for her students.

It was a long and sad day. I remember still getting my haircut. Both the stylist and I watched TV the entire time. I worked that night. It was even worse than working Thanksgiving or Christmas. Everyone came in, preparing for the worst. No one knew what tomorrow would bring, and all were stocking up just in case. There were even rumors that the gas supply would be cut off and/or gas would be over $5.00 in the morning.

At some point I received word that my trip was postponed. They were able to reschedule us for 6 days later. Getting on the plane and flying didn't terrify me a bit. Being out of the country when a war started was my fear, but I went anyway.

Life changed for me that morning. I can't put it into words, but my life changed. In an instant I was different. I was still me, but my understanding was different. My view of life was different. I grew up.

I am proud to be an American. I am proud to support my country. I am proud to support those who defend me, who fight for me, who protect me.

To quote Lee Greenwood's song, "God Bless the USA"

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died
who gave that right to me.
And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.


1 comment:

Quilterrits said...

I'll never forget it either. I was at work on a military base. I was 6 months pregnant with my son. My sister called to tell me we were under attack and asked if the base was closed. I knew nothing. I started asking around and some people knew, I guess they were trying to keep it quiet to avoid panic. I got through the rest of the day somehow, i don't remember how. I flew to Norfolk on orders the week after that. I had to act as if it were no big deal, to show no fear was so important at the time. You just keep going somehow.