My personal experience from 9/11
|~The Day I Knew My Whole World was About to Change~
It was September, and I was going about my normal day. I looked up to check the other clock in our kitchen to see what the time was in Kosovo, before taking my plate to the dining room. This was my family’s first deployment and Dad had only been gone 4 months, so far. Like most army families, we kept up with the news, but for some reason we had not checked that day. We were almost done with breakfast and about to start getting ready for school when the phone rang, almost immediately as we cleared the breakfast dishes.
It was my mom’s friend, “Jackie? Have you seen the news this morning? You need to go check.” That is all she said, but her tone spoke volumes. We knew something devastating had happened. At first, I thought, “Oh, no, Daddy!” Surely, nothing has happened to him, he is just on a peacekeeping mission. His location was relatively safe, and Dad was getting to help in some of the schools there.
However, it was not Dad: not my dad, but other kids’ dads and moms. Some were killed instantly; some died horrible deaths of burning or suffocation. I can still see the images on the TV in my mind: the planes hitting, the buildings bursting into flames, and worst of all, the buildings collapsing. The screams, even through the television, were chilling. The cry of agony and pain was so apparent; I knew my comfortable world, the life I knew, was forever changed.
Some called it an attack, and yes, it was. It was a horrible attack on many innocent people who were going about their everyday jobs, supporting their families, and just living the American dream. I felt guilty because I was relieved my dad was not a firefighter, a policeman, or an average businessman. The pain for all those families, whose loved ones would never come home from work, was almost too much for me. No, I did not know anyone in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, or on Flight 93. In my heart though, I knew my family would have to suffer eventually because of this heinous act.
In Kosovo, my dad and his soldiers were just starting their day, when they heard the news. At first, they thought someone was playing games with them on 24-hour CNN, but then reality hit them. Their nation had been attacked while they were on a mission of peace. All the soldiers were concerned about their families back home. One soldier commented, just seeing the chaplain’s insignia on my dad’s uniform reminded him that God was still in control. These guys had much to worry about. Some had family members in the towers, on the NYPD, or NYFD. There were reservist soldiers who were members of the NYPD and NYFD. If they had not deployed to Kosovo they might have been on duty back home. All they could think of was their buddies, giving their lives, and feeling guilty because they weren’t there to help.
Phone lines were shut down, so my dad could not call home. We did not hear from him for days. We were concerned about him and he was concerned about us. Family members from out of town called and asked if we had heard from Dad.
Back in the States, HIGH security measures were immediately initiated. Just the fact we had a military sticker on our family van made us a possible terrorist target. My family and others were given strict guidelines for our protection. Travel anywhere off-post was potentially unsafe. What would happen next? We lived in constant fear of another attack, perhaps right at our door.
This is only a small part of our experience after 9/11. Nine years later, we have learned that we can and must live with the added security measures that are for our protection. We are still cautious, and yes, still have a small fear of what could happen. We are now more aware of the suffering of those around us.
If I learned anything from the experience of 9/11, it is that this world is full of violence and pain. It is how I deal with it, and that I learn from every experience, that makes me a stronger person. I believe that America became stronger on that day, and so did I.