Sunday, September 11, 2011

Moving On-- What a Difference a Decade Makes.


While getting dressed for church this morning, I turned on the news to check the weather forecast. As usual, I somehow missed the weather portion of Northwest Cable News, and now I got to hear about what to do with your excess berries. It was casually mentioned that as it was September 11th, it would be a good day to have red and blue berries amidst creamy-white batter, to commemorate the day. "Really?" I thought, "We're honoring 9/11/11 with berries and ice cream?" I really wasn't sure how I felt about that. For those of us who remember 9/11/01, I'm sure our emotions will always be a little complicated! Naturally, I chose to blog about it ...

Oh, how vividly I remember September 11th, 2001. My husband arose from our bed uncharacteristically early to watch the news. He said he heard something on the radio about a plane hitting a building. As soon as the unforgettable images materialized on the screen, he urged me to come quickly. We watched in horror, unable to move. Ever my protector, Alan had one arm around my shoulders and the other cradling my pregnant belly. The instant the first twin tower fell, all color drained from his face. "You realize, don't you, that all those fire fighters below just died ..."

While that was upsetting to me as well, I knew the volunteer fire fighter who stood solemnly in my living room had just experienced a loss I couldn't comprehend. It was all so much to take in, and we had precious little time to do so. How on earth were we supposed to go to work on a day like today?

But go we did; Alan attempted to tend to warehouse details, while I struggled to teach a classroom full of confused, frightened preschoolers. I don't remember what I taught, he doesn't remember what he stocked. We plodded through the work day and got home as soon as possible.

For days, we couldn't tear our eyes away from the news. We ate in front of the T.V., kept the radio on all night ... it consumed our every thought. We spent the following weekend at the ocean with my family. We needed to be together, and we needed a break from our new reality. Unfortunately, when we left the calm, rhythmic waves in our rear view mirror, the stark reminders of that disastrous day were there once more. On every channel, twenty-four hours a day, it rang in our ears, brought tears to our eyes and troubled our hearts. When we went outside for a breath of fresh air, the quiet was eerie. Not only were there fewer cars, there were no planes in the sky. We struggled with living a normal life again. Could we laugh? Was it appropriate? Did it mean we didn't care? And yet, if our existence had no joy, didn't that mean the terrorists who tried to destroy our great nation had succeeded? Where was the line between righteous anger and blind, blanketed hatred? It was all so confusing.

As his mommy worried, my little boy fluttered and kicked in my belly. Though our pregnancy was usually a blessed distraction, there were also times when his daddy and I wondered just what kind of a world we were going to bring our first child into. And yet, either we trusted God, or we didn't. Either He was who He said He was, or the entire foundation of our lives was a lie. We weren't sure how everything was going to work out, but we pressed on.
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The first anniversary of 9/11 was such a mixture of emotions. While many of our national pain was still quite raw, people were flying in airplanes (though airport security was now a very different experience), getting married and beginning to live again. We were all somewhat nervous of an anniversary attack, but we refused to go into hiding or stay glued to our televisions anymore. As "God bless America" was somberly played during memorials on television, our post- 9/11 baby was crawling all over the house, blissfully unaware of why mommy held him just a little longer that night. We were now a country at war. We were all still grieving as a nation. And yet, as I held my son in my arms that night, I knew that I was unbelievably blessed.

The early morning hours of September 12, 2001 were wrought with horrifying sounds and sights that simply would not leave my head. Just a year later, I was awakened by the hungry cries of my baby. Even in my foggy 3:00 a.m. state, I was aware of how much my world had changed, and I was thankful. We were moving on.

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Ten years later, so much has changed. Some of the changes were needed, some of them break my heart. I was not afraid today. I laughed today. My children played outside as planes flew overhead. For ten years, we have avoided any further terrorist attacks on American soil. For that, I am indeed thankful.

That being said, I am struck by how the same country who shamelessly sang "God Bless America" on 9/11/01 doesn't have a national day of prayer anymore, because "prayer is a private matter." Funny, it wasn't private when we all had red, swollen eyes from sobbing in front of our televisions. Apparently, God is only needed in America when we are grief ridden and scared.

I will fight for freedom of religion in this great nation, and would certainly never insist that everyone believe, practice or pray as I do. I will, however, also fight for the right to respectfully, and un-apologetically embrace the faith-filled heritage of our forefathers.

I am also glad that today has become one of national pride, as well as remembrance. We need to honor our fallen heroes (as well as our brave men and women in uniform) by choosing to see the victory that came from that dark day. Though many lives were lost, we did not crumble as a nation. We rose up from the ashes and are rebuilding! By all means, fly your flags proudly, decorate in red, white & blue and yes, eat red, white and blue-themed desserts. But as we celebrate, let us also take the time to stop, think back, and remember. Let us hold our children close and tell them of the brave man who said, "Let's roll!" My children don't remember September 11th (since Alan was in utero, and Wyatt wasn't even a thought yet), but we talk about it as a family. We don't want to scare our children, but we want to plant seeds of understanding where the price of freedom is concerned.

With each passing year, the sting of September 11th seems to lessen a little. The image of crumbing towers, though still disturbing, does not warrant the collective gasp it did when we watched it live. It's good to heal; no one wants to emotionally "bleed" forever. As this dark day drifts farther into our history books, may we remember to whom our nation turned on 9/11/01. May we not assume invincibility, lest we risk greater injury.

God Bless America!

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About Me

I'm not your average housewife; but then, neither is any other housewife I've met! My life is a constant blur of kids, animals, hunting down and testing allergy-friendly recipes, shopping, LOTS of coffee, yarn crafting, nannying, singing and writing. I married my highschool sweetheart (the introvert who is a type-A, shy, organized, loves hunting, hiking and mountain climbing. He lives for pizza, burgers and cookies and doesn't like coffee). We are polar opposites, but Love, grace and a whole lotta Jesus can overcome anything! :) We have two boys who fill this house with lots of excitement, love, laughter and lunacy! Alan (9) is a happy-go-lucky, inventive, dramatic, eager-to-please kid who loves being dad's shadow and mom's shopping companion. He's the snuggliest kid I've ever met! Wyatt is extremely bright, inquisitive, entertaining and endearing. He lives for routine, Wii games, pixar films and writing stories. Alan is typically-developing, Wyatt has high-functioning autism. We live on an acre in the Pacific Northwest with our two aussies and 5 chickens. It's not the Waltons, but it works! :)