September 11, 2001 is a date that forever changed my perspective on life. The events of 9/11 revealed a level of insight which I had not previously acknowledged and challenged long held misconceptions about life in these United States.
In early August, 2001 I had a dream which I documented in my personal journal and still have in my possession to this day. “I was standing on Ellis Island (a place I have never been). The sky was dark and there were ominous clouds overhead. As I looked out over the water, I saw people swimming, frantically trying to reach the place where I stood. An eerie glow hovered above the city of New York. Fire was everywhere. Screams and confusion reigned.”
I thought nothing of this disturbing dream. I chalked it up to 3rd trimester pregnancy hormones or bad food the night before. Never in a million years could I have been able to predict seeing similar images on my TV screen just one month later.
I awoke on 9/11 to the ringing of my cell phone. My ex-boyfriend was babbling. “We are being bombed. Iraq is bombing us!” I assumed that this must be his idea of a sick joke, as my boyfriend (future husband) was stationed in Hawaii, and the ex was not exactly fond of the idea that I had moved on with my life…I hung up on him.
My boss called seconds later. She said no one was coming in to work that day. She told me to turn on my TV. My 3 year old son watched the 2nd plane hit the towers as he stood quietly beside me. He didn’t say a word. Just stared with big eyes, wondering why mommy was so still. I then called my boyfriend, and he confirmed that he too was watching the live reports and that his unit was on the ready alert.
Misconception: We are untouchable in the United States.
I took my son with me to my office where co-workers were also gathering. No one worked. Time stood still. Speculation with regard to possible attacks in other places began. I returned home, gathered up a few essentials, filled my gas tank, and drove to my father’s house. There we, along with the rest of the nation, were immersed in relentless news reports. I was 21, heavily pregnant, with a toddler in tow. No one knew if 9/12 would come…
That Halloween, I dressed Gabriel (my son) in a fireman’s costume, and designed his helmet myself in honor of New York Firefighters to read “FDNY”. He was far too young to understand its significance, but I treasure the pictures from that night, the innocence of his smile. The carefully crafted patriotic illusion of safety and security may have been marred by death and destruction, but the hope and light in a small boy’s eyes spoke volumes to me about new beginnings and restoration.
On June 6, 2003, Tim and I were wed in Hawaii. He served a total of 4 tours in Operation Enduring Freedom (’03, ’04, ’07 & ’10) and is now being medically retired from the United States Navy due to diagnoses of PTSD, Conversion Disorder, Depression, and Chronic Shoulder Instability. Tim is a decorated war hero, having served 14 years bravely and to the very best of his ability. Our sons are very proud of him, and I am honored to call him my husband. Despite lingering controversy with regard to the events of 9/11, one thing is certain. We live in a great nation full of people of all backgrounds, that when push comes to shove, will support one another in the darkest of times. We are a nation of people who are willing when truly threatened to put aside petty differences and unite for one common purpose. Survival.
God bless America.
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