It’s been 10 years. But you knew that already. It’s on our minds right now as we remember those lost and express gratitude for those who still live. I’ve mentioned before that I was a military dependent for most of my life and how grateful I am to my parents for everything they did for me. Yet I haven’t told you about the fear and the pain and the sacrifice that make strange bedfellows with that gratitude.
Yes, the military allowed me to see many different places and meet so many different people. Yes, I am grateful for the life that the military afforded my family and me. And yes, I respect the sacrifices that servicemen and women make everyday. But on 9/11, all I wanted was for my dad to come home.
And he did. I was lucky. My family was lucky. Not knowing how long the attacks would last nor where they would happen next was terrifying. Living on a military base felt the least safe that it ever has for me. But because of that, my dad’s workday lasted significantly longer than usual. Phone lines were clogged. I was home with my mom and my sisters. I watched as the 2nd tower fell.
I remember being so confused and so lost. I was only 14 and in 8th grade. I didn’t feel anger; I felt pain and loss and fear. Friends and family from far away were trying to get in touch with us; trying to make sure we were okay, just as everyone else in the country was. I know that my story is not one-of-a-kind. I know that we all remember where we were; how the day started; how we felt; who we were with.
But what I will never forget is how relieved I felt when my dad walked in the door and that we were all safe. Safe and together.
Some of my very progressive and feminist friends question–or are at least confused by–how I am able to maintain my strong liberal beliefs and respect for the military simultaneously. It’s a question I often struggle with, too. But really, what it boils down to, after having my father serve in the Army and one of my very best friends serve in the Marines and fight in Afghanistan, is this: each of those men and women are individuals with friends and family that love them and respect them no matter the decisions they make or the circumstances that lead them to join our country’s military.
Do I agree with violence and war and killing? No, but that is far from what the military is all about. And who am I to pass judgment on those who receive orders to go to war? We have this life and the people in our lives that make it worth living are what really matter regardless of their nationality, religion, political beliefs, sex, gender, orientation, ability, whatever. And I love my father and I’m proud of everything he did to support our family.
So this weekend and everyday, I remember those that were lost, I am grateful for the company of the people I love and the people who sacrifice everyday, and I hope. I hope for peace, and for love. For clarity, and for acceptance.
This post brought to you by Dawn, who encourages you to share your stories, memories, hopes, and fears below.