Sept 11 2001: I was 17, in school, with a 9-month-old child. I was a single mother fighting for both of our futures. I was in AP English when the first tower got hit and in mechanical drafting when the rest of the malicious activities showed face. We were put in lock down. Everyone stayed in second period classroom for the remainder of their day. Many kids were allowed to leave. Parents came to get their children. Everyone asking why, how, what does this mean?
Being a teen is a whole whirlwind of emotions as you venture in to the adult world with the brain of a selfish child much of the time. Lacking things such as foresight of consequence, having feelings of invincibility, carefree attitude, etc. Being a mother, fills you with this bazaar fear for your child, immense hope for them, dreams and goals, and wanting them to live in a world better than you had. Opportunities like no other, which in the US and through the American Dream we are told and taught, are in the reach of all people who work really hard for it.
Those three things, and everything I knew, and everything the US knew, came to a screeching halt. Much like I assume it did during the attack on pearl harbor- but with more instant media coverage. In the days that followed we were all truly a United State. It became an US or them mentality.
As a mother, I wondered what kind of world my daughter would grow up in. I no longer felt that I had any idea of how to protect her, teach her, and explain what had occurred that day. I had no idea, if in the coming days, who would get hit next. Would we be at war on our own home front? Would my daughter grow up like the children of conflict you see on TV, where that is the only life they know?
As a teenager, nearly 18, would they need to bring back the draft? Would it include women? Would I have to be separated from my child? How could this happen in the land of the free, where there is so many opportunities for success- how did they break our systems? If we could get hit with that magnitude-what else were we not seeing?
I married a Marine two years later. He had been discharged before Sept 11, but was sent a letter that he could be called back if the need arose. He was never called back. I think that always bothered him, and he continued to wonder about his “brothers in arms.” In 2008, he reenlisted of his own free will, leaving his job, house and family. This the relationship could not survive. But, as upset at him I was- still I remain proud. He left us for a higher purpose. He wanted to be a part of those protecting the freedoms we had grown to love and have.
So, today my babies are 10 and 7. I am a single mother. Sept. 11th has helped me teach them the value of hard work, volunteering, loving thy neighbor, and giving-taking nothing for granted- as you never know when something like this will happen again- and it should not take tragedy for America to open their hearts so freely to one another as we saw in the months following the attacks. The scars are there, the memories remain, but the goodness of the heart through action should not fade. We are a nation of great things. Let us find the importance of intangible items like relationships and time and not so much emphasize the status of things and possessions as a sign of greatness.