Commentary: Remembering Sept. 11, 2001
September 11, 2008
WIESBADEN, Germany - Sept. 11, 2001, has left an indelible mark on citizens of the United States and maybe the world.
It's one of those events where we'll always recall exactly what we were doing when the first and second planes hit the World Trade Center. Whether mopping the floor, like I was doing at the time, or taking the children to school, when the second tower came down we realized the world we knew would not be the same afterwards.
Those terrorist attacks changed the lives of all Americans. It was the first time we had experienced a major attack on our mainland and it was frightening.
It changed our entire security procedures - from open bases to secured ones, from a quick ID check to long lines during scanned inspections - or from saying goodbye at the airline gate to bidding farewell before the maze of a security check-in line.
It also made us appreciate our families more.
Watching the people in New York posting pictures of missing loved ones on the fences and begging for any news of their whereabouts caused many of us to stop and consider the fragility of life. When we say goodbye to someone as he or she leaves for work or a trip or any other time, it could really be "goodbye."
There is a tendency to take people for granted. Maybe the things that attracted us to our spouses are forgotten over time because they may not do the chores we ask them to do, or there may be a level of irritation that overrides our outward display of affection. Another example might be a child who spills his juice yet again being yelled at by a parent who has forgotten how desperately he or she desired to have that child in the first place.
When the loved one is lost all of those irritating habits are forgotten.
My husband came in soon after the attacks and confirmed that he would be deploying indefinitely. I knew it before he told me; as a military spouse we are aware of the call of duty. The thought that he might not return from that deployment made me forget about undone chores and remember how much I truly treasured him, our children and our life together.
We can't make sense of a tragedy, but we can and should look for ways to find something positive even in the darkest hour.
The fear of terrorism didn't tear us apart but rather united us as a people and as a country. We cherish and still have our freedom. We have great military men and women willing to serve and potentially sacrifice their lives for our country and our way of life and to promote this freedom throughout the world.
On a personal level, we now recognize that life is indeed fragile. And we must be thankful for every moment of our time together, because we can never know what can happen in a day.