Disclaimer: Below is my recount of September 11, 2001. Raw, and full of emotion as I remember that day. This is more for my benefit, I know, than anything else. Though I did not personally lose anyone that day, my heart goes out to all those who did.
This is always such a hard day. Has been for 14 years. Today has been harder than normal, with the exception of that day 14 years ago. Today I am teaching my children what happened on September 11, 2001. I know many of you are doing the same. Some of you may have been kids yourself on that day. I was 25 years old and 7 1/2 months pregnant with my first baby. My husband was in the Navy, and was already on a deployment with the Marines from Camp Pendleton. I remember it was near 6:30 am on the west coast, and I was still in bed asleep when my friend, a fellow military wife whose husband was also deployed, called me and very urgently told me to turn on the TV. As I walked down stairs, my first thought was that there must have been another ship attack like the USS Cole. I turned on the television and found the first news station showing a burning sky scraper in New York.
Honestly, my first thought was relief. It isn't a ship. My husband is safe. Just some sort of plane crash. But as I stood there watching, another plane crashed into the second building, and I slowly realized this couldn't be an accident. As the morning wore on, two more planes. One into the Pentagon and one into an empty field.
The worst wasn't over yet. I sat watching the news, the towers burning, the panic in the reporters' voices. The images will always be in my mind, stronger than anything. Stronger than labor pains. The planes, the billowing smoke, the bodies of desperate people trapped high up in the towers jumping to their deaths rather than burn. Then the towers just seemed to disintegrate where they stood. What was happening? How many more? Was the west coast next? I wish I could talk to my husband, but there was no way of contacting him. Camp Pendleton stretches from Christianitos to Oceanside, CA. Were we safe? Should I drive north to family or stay put? No choice at first, the base was now on full lock-down. Suddenly I felt guilty for being pregnant. What was I thinking, bringing a baby into this world? What sort of legacy would be there for him? Fear is a powerful thing. Maybe that's why even now, I fight back the tears at the thought of what we now call Patriot Day.
So how am I supposed to make it through this lesson with my children without completely breaking down? We watch a video on brainpop, made for children about that horrible day. We watch a news clip from that morning, on youtube. We sit in silence. Cry. Then we hug each other and try to get through the rest of our studies. The day seems so much sadder, and the work less meaningful right now. But we will not forget. My sons will know what happened that day. They will understand why their father had to be deployed to Afghanistan and eventually Iraq. They will understand why freedom isn't free. It is hard fought for. My middle son's response to the idea that the terrorists' goal was to strike fear into Americans was "but it didn't work". I tell him, "but it did. The human response to fear is fight or flight. In 2001 we were faced with a choice to either fight back or hide in fear. We took the fight to them. They pushed, and we pushed back."
Next year, we will go over it again. Each time, more in depth. We will never forget.