Monday, September 12, 2011

My Thoughts on 9/11

I am writing this on September 11.  It's been 10 years since my country was attacked.  

I do not have any family in the military.  I cannot identify with the thousands of families that sacrifice to send loved ones out each and every day -- and year -- to fight for and protect The United States of America.  I am one of the millions that is not touched in my daily life by the War on Terror.  But I am one that is incredibly grateful for the sacrifice on my behalf, so that I can live free and free from terror.  Thank you.

I love my country.  I cannot hear the National Anthem without getting tears in my eyes.  Forget trying to sing it -- I can't even get through it!  I love to see my flag waving in the wind.  And since I live in Texas, the bigger the better!  The history of The United States is like none other.  In fact, the only text book I ever read cover to cover was US History in college.

My children are of ages now that they are learning about 9/11 and we have had many discussions about that day.  Life changed that September day.  Innocence was lost.  The whole world changed.   

I held my 5-month-old baby on the couch for days, watching the television in horror, not believing this was happening to my country.  Things like this didn't happen in America.  Who would ever hate us this much?  My son was 5 years old at the time.  He would look up at the TV every now-and-then and then continue playing with his toys.  He built towers and crashed other toys into them, knocking them to the ground.  It made me cry.  I wrestled with turning off the TV, but I couldn't.  I had to watch.  I had to know and understand what was happening.  Like all those that flocked to Ground Zero and the blood banks.  I felt a unity with my fellow Americans.  I could not turn off the TV and pretend this wasn't happening.

The sky was eerily quiet for several days.  I remember driving from Albuquerque to Santa Fe to see my parents, listening to Lee Greenwood sing "I'm Proud to Be An American" and sobbing my eyes out.  My father had a heart attack 6 days after 9/11 -- the first of several that would happen over the next 6 weeks.  It was a stressful time.  My siblings came from out of state when my dad was in the hospital and were surprised that I was still flying my flag on my front porch.  I never wanted to take it down.  In fact, I still wish I could fly it every day of every year.

This post has nothing to do with birth or breastfeeding, but I felt compelled to write it.  I live in my own little bubble most of the time.  My 10-year-old has a friend whose mom serves in the Air Force and is in Iraq again.  She leaves for an entire year, only coming home for 14 days.  I believe she's there for the third time.  Her friend has two little sisters, too.  I can't imagine the sacrifices that family makes.  The girl's dad came by to pick up Abby the other day, and it was windy out.  I have this little Uncle Sam statue on my porch with an American Flag in his hands.  The flag had blown down and was laying on the concrete when he came to the door.  He gently picked up the flag and place it back in Uncle Sam's hands.  I was humbled and quite embarrassed that it had been laying on my porch when everything about their family has to do with protecting our country. 

I wish we could remain naive. I wish we could greet loved ones at the gate instead of the baggage claim.   I wish our children didn't have to grow.  The world can be a yucky place.  When Vena, now 12, learned about 9/11, the thing that stuck with her was all the people that jumped from the burning towers.  How could that have possibly been better that staying in the burning building?  She had nightmares for weeks, that is, when she would finally fall asleep. 

I love our elementary school.   Every Veteran's Day they do a beautiful program in the school parking lot.  Every public servant you can think of -- all military branches, police, firefighters, EMT, etc -- are honored.  The kids learn and perform all those American songs we love -- America the Beautiful, I'm Proud to Be An American, and The Star-Spangled Banner.  I learned that first year, bring your tissues!  As long as they continue to do that program, even when I no longer have children there, I will make that my tradition on Veteran's Day.

I won't even touch on the politics, but I will say that the way I have viewed the world since 9/11 has caused me to change a number of attitudes, including how I vote.  I was never concerned about war and such before that fateful day.  I hope we never encounter a day like that again.  I am grateful that 10 years have passed and we haven't seen another attack like 9/11.  Someone was doing something right, I believe. 

Thank you to those that love this country as much as I do -- perhaps more -- to step out on the front line to defend this land that I love.  God Bless the USA.

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