Looking back through hazy memories, Alan Jackson singing "Where Were You" rattling in my mind, I remember...
Do you remember where you were when the world changed? I do. I felt like I was in a front row seat to watch that profound change. I wasn't in the USA, I was on a military base, tucked in tight beside an international airport. I watched from thousands of miles away and lived it first hand, as for the first time in my life I lived on a base that was in Threat Con Delta. Our world froze, we didn't experience that when the bomb went off on our base just a few years before.
I had just gotten home from work. My son was watching cartoons, I was chatting with family in the US on instant message. Within the blink of an eye cartoons were gone, son was furious, and my ex and I sat there in stunned silence. My ex was on vacation, kicked back in his recliner, he always took the first week of football season off. The first words he said to me, "my vacation is over"... seconds later the phone rang. Mandatory recall of all mission essential personel. He was right.
The next thing we noticed was the silence. Over the next few hours the few planes in the air would slowly land. Cars would cease driving and everything around us would close. Our gates were guarded by not only our military police, but also the airport police and the German Police. I called my daughter home, she was at a friends. I needed to know they were safe.
For almost a week we lived in a cocoon, no school, no work, no movement. They brought food supplies to the shoppette for our sponsors to go purchase. The kids didn't go outside, it was quiet, still and fearful. Even as we went back to living, it was profoundly changed. Our school buses had armed military guards, we couldn't just move freely at will... we lived a completely different life from that point forward.
Being military we all knew who was responsible, we weren't living in the bubble that so many American's lived in then. We knew that dreaded name "Bin Laden", it was real to us. We understood, quickly. We knew what terrorism was...
In our little cocoon, with our German friends watching over us. We were watching through the television screen, talking to people via computer and phone. And praying. Praying for those lost, praying for their families, praying for American's and praying for our world.
I have a favorite picture from then, I wish I had access to it now. My ex took that picture, it was raining, it's black and white. It's a single rose tucked into the fence that normally would have been opened, but was closed to protect the families living at the end of that runway. It's a powerful picture.
It wasn't just America that changed 12 years ago. It was the world, for better or worse, despite countries, governments and politics, people stood together. People cared about people, they mourned, they worried, they were the strength for one another when it was in short supply.
A year ago, four more American's lost their lives on 9/11. I remember feeling absolute horror at watching the video, listening to things unfold. Hearing our Secretary of State say what difference does it make now. It matters. To their families and loved ones it matters. Just as much as each of those lost in the Towers, the Field, the Pentagon. It matters!
Today we stand on the edge of getting involved in another conflict. One I firmly believe we don't belong in. I worry about the thoughts that drive people. I worry about their agendas. I fear that selfish inner motives are going to cause more loss of life. As I listened to the American President last night, I was dumbstruck. He isn't speaking for me, I doubt he is speaking for the rest of a war weary country. He was speaking for the elite, the ones that only worry about things like pride and saving face. The ones who's family members will not perish fighting for something that doesn't involve us.
I spent my life living in places torn apart by wars. They are different. There is a stronger value of life, they realize how easily it goes away. I have always said that America would be stronger if there were more people that realized how quickly it can all be gone. It's a lesson I never wanted us to learn, it's a lesson I never want us to forget.
9/11 allowed us as American's to truly recognize our true hero's the ones running in instead of running out. We are a country of hero's. We are a strong people. I think we forget that.
I am praying again this 9/11. I am praying that there is no more. I am praying that our world can remember 9/12. I am praying for answers and resolutions. I am praying for peace and growth.
Because I do remember...