I had no idea the full impact that day would have on my life. I couldn’t have known. I had a vague idea, but only to a certain extent.
I was 18, and in gym class. The teachers, who never gave us a “Play Day” that deviated from the lesson plan, suddenly took us into the girl’s locker room and left us there with the door closed. We were talking in hushed whispers. Never had I seen teachers’ faces so white. Finally, after thirty minutes, I sneaked out the door and saw my teacher sitting in her office, face in her hands listening to the radio.
“A plane has hit the tower!” The radio was on.
She looked up and sent me back to the locker room. She came in later, after a long while, and told us that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. None of my teachers taught anything that day. The televisions were on, and we just watched. As horror and death continue to unfold. Countless lives lost, buildings destroyed, America brought to its knees.
The days that followed turned into weeks. Bush stood in front of America. We were officially a nation at war.
At that time, he was finishing school and would soon live a mile from me. But, I did not know him. He was living his own life. Preparing to serve our country. But, I had no idea he even existed. Instead, I feared for my brothers. My father, who was serving at that time. What would happen? Would there be a draft? Would my family be split apart by war.
Yes, my child. But not yet.
Months turned into years, and life moved forward. We stood up, we healed with scars. And our men and women continued to fight. I went to college, grew up. And he was still fighting, but I still did not know him.
I know him, now. I met him, I married him, we had a baby. I saw him off to war, and we found out we were going to have another baby. Because of the war. He came home, and we are a family. He was the last Brigade officially out of Iraq, but they are still there. Helping them recover.
This day, this anniversary, rings especially somber this year. As our president stood in front of the cameras again last night, making clear his intentions. His preferences.
It scared me. And I had flashbacks.
To that young girl in high school, who, while still mourning the immense loss of American men and women on that fateful September day, watched the president declare war. Who feared for her brothers, her father. When that man–that dear man–would soon live less than a mile away. And would train. Learn. Prepare to go fight. Soon.
To that woman who, on the eve of her wedding and amidst all the joy and naiveté, had a realization in her stomach of the life into which she was marrying. A different life. A hard life. Of separation and sacrifice. But, she loved that man. So much. And they had God. He would guide them. But, still, the feeling was still there.
To that mother who, having no idea of the new life in her middle, held her first baby in her arms as she put her husband, her Soldier on a bus. Watched him pull away. And broke down in the car to an extent she’d never known before. That woman who fought to make a year joyful, loving, pleasant for her little growing family. Who prepared to give birth alone, but was given a sweet gift at the last second. And her Soldier stood by her side and they welcomed new life.
To the woman who, upon receiving the incomplete text message about blood and the hospital, thought the worst. And had to wait. And wait. For the news. And, thankfully, it wasn’t what she had thought.
To that Army Wife who stood on the parade field, barely able to contain herself as she tried to find her Soldier in the huge formation. Who fought to contain the 2 year old, crying to get on the field and find her daddy. To the woman who was ready to be a family again.
There is evil in this world. People who want to destroy others in the name of their “religion.” Their “god.” We, as an American nation, have seen that many times.
October 12, 2000, a suicide attack killed 17 U.S. Sailors on board the U.S.S. Cole.
On September 11th, 2001, when almost 3,000 lives were taken out of hatred.
When a “soldier” stood up on Fort Hood and killed 19 people in the name of his “religion.”
Three people were killed and hundreds wounded on April 15, 2013 at the Boston Marathon, when two bombs exploded near the finish line.
People have died, unjustly, in the face of hatred and religious self-righteousness. Men have killed and injured others, destroyed families, and have attempted in vain to ruin a nation all because of skewed ideas and perverted “religion.” Men and women have fought in wars against this hatred, sometimes returing home missing limbs or arriving in boxes, defending this nation and the idea of a true Good. They defend liberty and justice. For all.
I choose to believe in a different God. A God who loves all, wants the best for us and, in the midst of our shame and sinfulness, loves us. Wants us to choose Him, choose good. Who wants us to stand in defense of this good. For all.
I believe in a God who, when those souls all came Home too early, took them in his arms and welcomed them. Who spread out wide his mantle of comfort over aching families, a bleeding nation. Who continuously calls these hateful men and women to change their hearts, to come to His fold.
I believe in a nation that can get knocked down, but will stand up every time. We will continue to stand representing good. Defending liberty and justice. For all. We will continue to remember and honor those who died in honor of that freedom, who died in defense of our nation. Or who were just innocent souls who died because of the evil.
We will remember them all.
God bless America.