17 Years Since Everything Changed
It has been 17 years since everything changed. My children were born after this time, and they will never know the world how it once was. A world in which horrible tragedies happen across the ocean. A world in which we felt safe and that where terrorism wasn’t something we thought about on a regular basis.
The US went to war less than 18 months after the attack. A war my husband and a lot of yours have fought in. A war that some think should never have happened. A war that might have been the best way to handle a situation we have never had to handle as a country before.
I think back to that day.
September 11th. When everything changed.
When people came together, and we stood together as a country. When we realized that loving our neighbor was more important than any debates we may have had in the past. When we were glued to our TVs, when we watched the first responders, when we couldn’t figure out why people hated the US so much that they would take so many lives on one fall day.
The world has changed. And with it, the military has changed. There is a pre-9/11 military experience and a post 9/11 one. So many have joined because of what happened that day. Others decided it was too much and it was time to leave military service.
We are 17 years past that day and war is still happening.
Service members are still going to war. Never think the war is over, no matter who says it is on the nightly news. Spouses are still saying goodbye to their loved ones, heading over to Iraq, Afghanistan, and anywhere they are told to go.
Going to the airport is a different experience now. We always went through security, but you could do so whether you had a ticket or not. You could greet your loved ones right when they got off the plane. I have so many memories of looking for my Grandparents as soon as we walked out of the airplane.
We have to take our shoes off now, we have to dump our drinks, and we are always aware of what happened to the innocent people that were on American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, American Airlines Flight 77 and United Airlines Flight 93.
The New York skyline is different now. I have never been, but I know for those people who live and work in the city, the city has a different look to it.
We no longer trust people like we used to.
I used to wonder how we as a country could have put our American citizens into internment camps during WW2, but after 9/11 I knew. I heard people talking about those in other religions; people started to fear other Americans because they were Muslim. I would like to think we are past that type of racism, but we are not.
As a military spouse, I know how much military families have had to give up in the war against terrorism. We understand how serious terrorism can be and why our spouses have to serve in certain parts of the world. However, emotionally saying goodbye to them can be so difficult, especially since our country has been at war for so long.
I still remember that day very well. I had just started my last semester of college. Being on the west coast, I woke up to the news. I got ready for classes and drove the 20 minutes to my college.
Back in 2001, the internet was something you used on your computer. We did not get the news as quickly as we did today. Because of that, not everyone in my college class had heard the news. Those that had told them.
We talked about what happened. We talked about possible war and what that would mean. All of it seemed so surreal. I met my now husband for lunch that day, we were just dating back then.
I still remember him driving me home after lunch and dropping me off in the downtown area so I could grab a newspaper. I still have it. The newspaper was printed as soon as possible, and the paper is a reminder of the shock of that day. Every time I see that photo of the planes crashing into the towers, I remember how surprised I was and how at the time none of us knew what that all meant.
Time has moved on.
I got married and had three children. They were born after this tragedy. Anyone under the age of 17 was not born yet, most of the current college-aged adults were too young even to remember. Our country has moved on in some ways and in others ways we have not.
The threats are still real. The military is still fighting, and we can’t ever forget those who died on that day. Their stories, their families, and the strength that each one of them showed.
You might be too young to remember, maybe you were just a child and all you know about that day was that your parents watched the news instead of letting you watch Sesame Street. Maybe you were like me, in college, getting ready to start your adult life, going out into the world so different than the one you started college in.
Maybe you were a young military bride, whose husband joined the Army, assuming a peacetime enlistment. Maybe you were pregnant with your first child when your husband who had been debating enlisting decided that it was now time. Maybe you were a soldier who had served in the first Gulf War and knew that more war was coming.
I know I will never forget that day in September of 2001 and I will never forget the days my husband left for his deployments. I pray that as time moves on, the world becomes a safer place. That the evil that comes from these types of attacks can be stopped and that we will always think of 9/11 as a day to be a strong country and one that sticks together through our tragedies and our happier days.
If you care to share, what were you doing the morning of 9/11/01? Do you remember?