Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11: What I Remember

I do have some clear memories of September 11th, 2001, but most of that day is kind of hazy in my mind. That morning, I was sitting on my bed, listening to the radio. I remember that I heard something about a plane flying into the Pentagon. I remember that it just didn't really compute, and that I really couldn't frame what I'd just heard. My sister Liz, who was living in Gaithersburg, Maryland at the time (very close to D.C.) called. She asked, "Rae, have you been watching the news?" And I remember being shocked when she explained to me what had happened, and confirmed that what I'd listened to on the radio was something real, something happening right then, something that (of course) demanded immediate attention. She was due any day with her first baby, and I remember her talking to my mom and us wondering if she would get to the hospital in good time, should she deliver soon, and then feeling somewhat ashamed that we were worrying about that. (She delivered him on the 13th! Take that, terrorists!)

Phill and I had been engaged just 18 days earlier, and I remember that I didn't see him or my dad until extremely late that night. I remember that they were close-lipped about a lot of things, heavy-hearted, and we all just sort of held each other for a while after they walked in the door. I remember asking my dad if we were going to war, if we knew who did this, and if we were going to fight. I remember the way his jaw set, and I remember him telling me that he knew more than he was allowed to say, but that I should rest assured that we would fight back. I remember being proud of my country, proud of my Phill and my dad.

That night, though, after we were all in bed (and probably not at all asleep), I wrote in my journal. I was sobbing and finally overcome by all that had transpired that day. I remember writing that with this huge evidence of the many evils in this world, I was afraid to have children. I remember feeling that some light in me had been extinguished, some feeling of safety and some semblance of normal everyday life. I wrote how guilty I felt for feeling as shaken as I was, when I knew so many more were suffering so much more than I. I put away my journal, laid down in my bed, and was just shaking for a long time and crying. I continued to pray long into the night, and I finally felt reassured at some wee hours in the morning. I got up to write in my journal, feeling strong and brave and peaceful. I wrote that I was not going to be scared, and that I was just going to strengthen my resolve to have children, be a good mother to them, and raise them in a way that would make it so that they were my lasting evidence that I was fighting evil with good; fighting evil with strong personalities and strong children who love their country and are willing to defend it. I knew that this was yet another way that the adversary tries to silence us with fear, to make us cower in the shadows in despair and give up hope that we can make the world a better place by our choices.

I remember very clearly that I chose to be happy, to marry Phill, and to have children and to be brave, even if worse things might be coming. So this day makes me fiercely proud of my choice to be a mother.

The next morning, after my mother taught early-morning seminary, we drove together to take some of the students to school. I can still see clearly the lines of cars waiting to get onto (the military) post (every single car going on post that day was inspected: every bolt, every curve, every part of every car searched to within the last centimeter). I also see clearly the faces of all those in the cars next to and in front of us, faces that were not impatient in their waiting, but thoughtful and quiet. Faces that turned happy with tears of pride and joy as the national anthem came on the radio, and every single car rolled down their windows, turned up their radios full-blast, and honked and waved tiny American flags as we crept along, occasionally passing people holding posters reading, "Honk if you love America!"

So whenever this date comes, while I am solemnly mindful of those who were lost that day, those who lost someone they loved, and the way it changed so much, I can't help but be proud to be an American, proud to be a mother, and proud to be the wife of a soldier and daughter of a soldier. I feel like I am beating the terrorists who do things like this, fighting the entire mind-set of those who do these things, fighting them with my refusal to let this affect my decision to press on and endure with a happy heart.

So on this day I always think: Am I happy? And I feel that every time I can say honestly Yes, I'm happy--then we are winning.

These pictures are a little random, considering Phill wasn't deployed until 2003 (and 2005), but they seem appropriate based on context.

The soldiers at Ft.Carson all prepared for deployment - April 2003
Our see-you-later (this started as one of those sick-feeling dark early stomach does weird little twisting things just looking at this!) -- Reed is 4 months (ish)
Something I made while he was on his second tour (still think it's hilarious that they call it a tour)
2005 (Reed is 2)
November 21st, 2002 (Note that Phill is still in uniform. Hee hee....he came right from work.)
I remember thinking that DCU's looked so weird. (DCU's are these lighter-colored uniforms they now have and that he didn't have until deployment....up until then it was the green BDU's and that was what I was used to!)
Phill and his gorgeous sister, Melissa, who lived with me for 2 months of the 3 months he was gone that first time. He kept being so silly and making us laugh and then of course I'd start crying again!


Suzanne said...

Thank you for posting this, I liked reading it.
I am glad you are happy, you have had a lot on your plate because of this, you are very strong.
We are grateful for Phill and your Dad and pray for our soldiers everyday.

From My Eyes said...


Marie said...

Wow, thanks for posting that. I loved reading your perspective. So uplifting, as usual!

Kate said...

I really enjoyed this blog. It is interesting to see what was going on in everyone's lives on Sept 11. It was Mike and my 15th anniversary and he was out of town with the military and they didn't know if or when they would let him come home. It was a very somber day. Thanks for sharing. You are great

Heidi said...

I loved your post and your thoughts.

We were just waking up in Los Angeles and it was waking up to a nightmare, it felt so unreal. I was pregnant with Christopher, had an OB visit that morning and I remember how strange it was to do something so normal, to feel that even if the world froze that this baby was still coming and life was going on...

We lived in a flight path for LAX and I remember how quiet the sky was that day.

As you said - we mothers keep going. Keep mothering. Changing the world with our choices as we parent these children and testify of what we believe.

I owe you an email... :)

Kristy said...

Loved your comments. I remember we were mailing out our wedding invitations that day and I just hoped the world wouldn't stop turning.

Anyway, consider yourself tagged:

Kristy, Consider yourself tagged. This was a fun one to do:

Rules are:

1. Link the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write 6 random things about yourself.
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let the person know you tagged them on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when you've posted.

Waynsh said...

Those pics bring up yucky memories. :(..Phil is awesome, and we are grateful for guys like him that keep our country free. AND grateful for military wives like you who sacrifice so much. Thanks Phil and Rachel.