Eleven years ago today, I put Andy on the bus to go to middle school. I then walked Cami to 2nd grade with Alex in his front pack. It was a nice morning out, starting almost to feel fall like. I then remember having to take my newborn Alex to the hospital at WOMACK for a CT scan. He was only 6 weeks old and had really only been home with us a few weeks as he was born premature and spent a few weeks extra in the hospital. This was an anxious time for us anyway as they were seeing if the bleeding on his brain from birth was going down. Of course no results that day, just a test (Of course for those wondering, it had and he is fine now! ;O). As I was driving home, all of 3 minutes from the hospital to our on post house, the radio cuts in that a tower has been hit. I couldn't believe it. I was in shock and didn't really even have a clue as to what this would bring. I got home and rushed in to turn on the TV news...there was the tower with smoke coming out. I was trying to call Dave when the second tower was hit. The realization had already sunk in, Dave was currently in the 82nd Airborne, which from the first day we arrived at Fort Bragg I had always heard....82nd is the first to go...they do drills all the time to be able to deploy in less than 18 hours. He was at work and I had NO idea if he would even come home again...and if he did, would it be to pack a bag. Well as I continued to watch the news the Pentagon was then hit....I was now terrified. Can this really be happening on our own soil? Can the enemy really be this close? Then flight 93 went down too. Wow, my world was rocked. I finally got a hold of Dave and he said to go get the kids. That they are unsure what the next target could be. Everyone now was just waiting to see what would be hit next. Truly in our minds we didn't know if it was over or not. That day went on in a blur. I watched the news all day....and into the late evening. It took Dave hours to get home that day. Only to get up early and go back again the next day with a bag now already packed to go.
For me honestly, 9-12-01 was probably EVEN more memorable than 9-11-01. For me 9-12-01, my world changed all around me. As much as I tried to keep it normal, it just wasn't. Dave had told me that it would probably be better for me to not try and drive anywhere today, because of the heightened security on base. So I again put Andy on the bus, which since he rode a handicap bus it picked him up at the house, surprisingly at the normal time. I then got ready to walk Cami to school. This is when everything became surreal. As we reached the corner of our street we saw the armed Soldiers with weapons in hand at every street corner down the main road. As we got closer to her school I saw that the school was basically surrounded with armed Soldiers. There to protect us....here we live on a military base and they are having to protect us on our walk to school? It just felt so abnormal. I got to the doors and there were already parents out front standing around talking about what to do because getting on base today was backed up for hours as Fort Bragg went from being an open base to a closed one. No one knew if they should leave their kids and no one knew which teachers were here and weren't. A Soldier at the door told us that he was instructed to send all the kids to the gym for the time being. That is when I made a decision to take my Cami home with me again....she didn't need to be subjected to that. Many of my neighbors did the same. Then I worried about Andy and if he had anyone there at the middle school to receive him. I called the school and found out that his teacher in fact was there. SO he was good for the day. Later we found out that the line to get on base was taking hours and hours....many teachers never made it in that day. Some people even ran out of gas waiting in the long lines to get on base. It was really crazy to believe.
All day I continued to worry and pray. My neighbor and I decided to walk up to the shoppette to get a few things we may need for the next few days. We knew that life might be different for a while. I decided more diapers and milk wouldn't hurt to stock up on. So we walked with stroller and kids and stocked up on what we could carry home. We watched news while the kids watched movies and played. It was a really strange day. Dave came home later that evening and explained better how the Army had completely shut the gates to our open post and how you had to show your military ID to go anywhere and do anything. This was new to us. We never had to show an ID to get home or walk into a shoppette. Now we did. Command buildings had extra protection and barricades placed all around them basically overnight on 9-11-01. It was literally crazy how quickly everything could change.
The next step for us for the next few months was waiting....waiting to see if this would be our last breakfast or our last dinner before Dave deployed out. We honestly didn't know. No one knew. It was tough going day to day wondering, believing that at any moment they could call him to deploy quickly. We did have friends who left....and many had really hard times upon returning....a lot of PTSD for those that went and returned in the early days. Fortunately for us, Dave never had to deploy out of the 82nd....we eventually PCSed to Hawaii the next summer. And all of Dave's deployments came later. But that year and those few days, and hours will always be ingrained into my mind. I truly will never forget those two days. Or how it has shaped our lives in the years since. Dave has now deployed three times. Once to Iraq, where he returned home injured and then twice more to Afghanistan, where we lost Soldiers we both knew. It hasn't been easy and it sure hasn't been fun, but I am proud to say we have survived to protect the rights and freedoms we Americans enjoy daily.
May God bless and protect the Soldiers, Firefighters, Policeman, Rescue Workers, their Families and every hero who have all been affected by this day. Please be with them and protect over them.
May we all also remember the bond we had that day and the days to follow. May every American remember what it is like to need to pray for your neighbor, be there for a friend, and just be good citizens without a major crisis to put us there again. I will also never forget wanting to then buy small flags to put in my flower pots in the end of Sept and not being able to find flags anywhere in the stores, because SO many americans had bought them to show their support. Let's remember those times too. And be proud of who we are!
May God bless you!!!