Today, on the ten-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, so many thoughts are racing through my mind and so many emotions are flooding my heart. I am overcome with grief: for the many innocent lives lost that day, for the devastation and pain our nation experienced, for the many sacrifices made by those who have bravely fought back for the past ten years. And of course, for my own loss.
I’ll never forget where I was that day. I stood in the library beside my best friend during what would have been our second period class and watched as the second plane crashed into the South Tower. Our young minds were reeling and we couldn’t quite fathom the magnitude of what was happening as we clustered amongst the students in the safety of our small town high school. The looks on our teachers’ faces were our first clues of the seriousness of the events unfolding before us, and as the minutes rolled on we began to feel it. Prayers circles were formed, tearful groups held hands, and we all knew – our world had changed forever.
Little did my best friend and I know just how much our worlds would change because of this fateful day.
A mere 10 months later, my best friend was at boot camp for the Air Force. He, and many other young adults motivated by that horrific occurrence and its aftermath, had responded to the call to defend his country. He put his fears aside and stepped up for his peers, for his family, for America. He was ready to act for our freedom.
As often happens in the case of true love, absence made our hearts realize what they desired and within a year, my best friend became my husband.
The next five years of our lives brought many experiences: our first apartment, adventures in schooling and first serious jobs, a move overseas to build a new life in Japan, promotions and Temporary Duty Assignments and deployments, completion of college degrees, and the conception of our first child. Around our five-year anniversary, we moved back to the US and built our first home, ready to welcome our son into the world. We were ecstatic, on top of the world, and so excited for the future we had worked so hard for, for so many years.
Shortly after our son was born, we received the news. My husband would be leaving for his third deployment in March. Our son would only be three months old.
We were devastated, but in our true fashion we remained optimistic. We found the positives in the situation: he would only be gone seven months, he would be home for our little man’s first birthday, he had wonderful teammates, we would have good communication. We would make it work. We always had. He would be home before we knew it.
But this time, he wouldn’t come home.
On this significant anniversary, I am filled not only with the memories of the dreadful events of that day and the sorrow of the 2,996 lives lost within them, but I am also overcome by the grief of my own loss: my husband, my best friend, a dedicated and brave hero who gave his life fighting the War on Terror. As I mourn the anniversary of September 11, I also mourn the anniversary of September 12. Tomorrow marks two years since my best friend and love gave his life fighting for the security and freedom of our nation, just one day after anniversary of the event that motivated him.
I am one of many – a single voice of thousands of families filled with the pain and grief of loss following the attacks of September 11: husbands and wives whose spouses didn’t come home from work that day, children whose parents never made it off their plane, parents whose adult children bravely responded in efforts to save others, aunts and uncles and cousins and friends who never got to say a final goodbye on what started out as a normal day. And Gold Star families whose loved ones have made the ultimate sacrifice in the years since.
More than 6,000 brave men and women have given their lives fighting the War on Terror, fighting back for our nation, fighting for the honor and memory of the thousands of innocent people who perished at the hands of terrorists. And I imagine that I speak for many when I say that one of the most comforting thoughts I envelope myself with one days like these is the fact that my husband died doing something he believed in. He died with faith, conviction, passion, and hope for the future. And because of that, I will continue on his legacy.
As we mark the ten year anniversary of September 11, 2001, let us remember all who perished that day and in the days since. And let us not forget the many troops still out there fighting for our freedom today. The best thing we can do to honor the memory of all of our heroes is to live the lives they sacrificed to give us. Live it to the fullest: with faith, conviction, passion, and hope for the future. Let us continue on their legacies.
God bless us all. We remember. <3