My Post 9/11 World
We all live in a Post 9/11 world where life will never be the same for any of us. We all remember what we were doing ten years ago on that fateful day, at the very moment when we first heard the news of the planes hitting the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93 went crashing into the field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
We are now a nation at war ten years, and we’ve come to expect long security lines at airports where bags are searched and nail clippers, now classified as dangerous weapons, are confiscated. Do you remember the Homeland Security Advisory System? Do you remember what all those colors were supposed to tell us? We don’t even use it anymore because it was used too frequently, never really meant anything, and we simply began to ignore it.
As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 comes to pass, and I reflect back on how that moment in time has come to change us all, I realize that it isn’t just those who lost a family member on that fateful day who now live differently, and it isn’t just the mundane rituals we endure at the airport that affect each of us.
As with many other American families, the changes that have taken place in my family member’s lives are significant because I know as sure as I’m standing here, that if that fateful day had never taken place, I would not be spending my days doing what I now do. I honestly have no idea what I might be doing if September 11, 2001, had been just another ordinary day, because all that I was doing then, is now just a distant memory.
It has occurred to me that perhaps I need to try to remember back to what I was doing on September 10, 2001. I don’t have a clue what the specifics were for that day, but if I had known that September 11, would redefine the lives of each one in my family, I would have certainly made more of a mental note of the day’s events.
Ten years ago, I was still teaching. I had left the classroom and was home educating my two youngest sons, who were at that time, ages 7 and 9. My oldest son, age 15, was attending the local public high school. Our family was caught up in fall baseball, Tae Kwon Do tournaments, and learning as much as we could about our Christian American history.
I was fascinated by all that I had never been taught about history in my public school upbringing, and as I taught my children, we found that we were becoming very passionate patriotic people. We were in awe of the government that had been set up, and the great men who had founded this nation. We were enjoying our freedoms given to us by those who have made sacrifices in the past, and I’m embarrassed to say that we simply took it all for granted.
And then, in an instant, our innocence was gone. For the first time in our lives, we were frightened, confused, grief stricken, and unsure of what was happening to our safe and free nation.
I know my oldest son was always planning to go into the military, but it never really sunk in because we weren’t at war and he was just a kid. My plan for him to go to college was the only thing on my mind, and when he decided to enlist two years after the events of September 11th took place, I was determined to talk him out of it. I never once pictured myself as the mother of a United States Marine deployed to a war zone. I couldn’t imagine it, but one day I woke up and found that to be my reality.
I never thought that in sending care packages to those in my son’s Marine unit, I would find myself, seven years later, running a nonprofit organization which supports our troops, our veterans, and their families, but that is in fact, what I do every day.
When my husband and I decided to bring three children into the world, we never once imagined even one of our precious boys would live through the horrors of war, watch friends die, and come home as a disabled combat veteran.
I would have never guessed that, though my son was home from war, that the real battle was just beginning for our family. Though I managed to survive three combat deployments here on the homefront, I feared for my son’s life more now, because he was stuck in a deplorable health care system which continues to produce unemployed, homeless veterans, high suicide rates, and staggering statistics for broken families.
Ten years ago, I could not have ever imagined myself as an advocate for wounded warriors. I would have laughed if you told me I would stand up against the highest ranks in the military, work side by side with congressional leaders, and that a Department of Defense Inspector General’s team would fly to Lexington, Kentucky, just to spend four days interviewing little old me, a mom to three boys. Who would have thought that all of my note taking and letter writing would have actually come to make a difference in the lives of our wounded warriors.
Always having been more of an introvert, I would have never dreamed, in a million years, that I would start writing blogs that would grab the attention of national news media. I barely had the nerve to post my opinion on the world wide web, and yet dishing out a piece of my mind began to have an impact. Even more out of character is the fact that I now get up and speak in front of groups of people, do local television interviews, and host an internet radio show, but God has put the opportunities in front of me whether I want them or not, and He has put the words in my mouth to help Him make a difference in this Post 9/11 World. He has empowered me to get up and do things that I would have never considered, even in my wildest dreams.
I’ve learned a lot more about that government that I was once so impressed by, and I’ve learned that the world is not a very nice place. I have found that I am no longer naive. There has been a lot of pain and hurt in our lives over the past ten years. I’ve been to more military funerals than I care to count, including some for those who saw suicide as their only option. I’ve got too many friends who have buried their children because of this war, and I’ve met too many veterans who are disabled, homeless, hopeless, and unappreciated.
I’ve watched the past decade take my innocent 15 year old boy, drag him through combat three times, and turn him into a hurt and frustrated man who served his country and feels that he is now all but forgotten.
Looking back, I realize that while my life has changed in a dramatic way, and I feel so changed by the past ten years, I also realize that maybe I’m not so different after all. I was a full time mom back then, and my job called for me to teach my children and be the best team mom and wife in town. I never really stopped being a mom. I just ended up adopting a lot more kids along the way who happened to be wearing the uniform of the United States military.
If you haven’t taken some time to think about how this Post 9/11 World has changed your life in a personal way, I suggest you take a few moments to consider its impact. You might be as surprised, as I was, to realize that one moment in time can truly redefine each one of us in a remarkable way.
As for my family and me, we could be bitter and broken by this cruel path we have been forced to walk, but I’m grateful that we haven’t let this Post 9/11 World steal our joy. We will keep moving forward, one day at a time. We will continue to give thanks that we haven’t had to make the same sacrifices which other families have been forced to make, and we will continue to step out and help those who need our support. We can’t go back to that innocent world we lived in on September 10, 2001, but we can move forward and make the best out of the world we live in now.