Where was I on 9-11-01? I was at work. I was a nurse on the Medical-Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City, NC. I was doing my morning vitals on my patient when I looked up at the TV in the room to see first plane hit the towers. My first thought was, "Oh My Lord, those people! What idiot would make such a stupid mistake?" My first reaction was disbelief and scorn. I really thought someone had made just a stupid mistake. As I continued to watch the news and the second plane crashed, I quickly came to realize this was no accident. This was no coincidence. We were being attacked. My disbelief remained, but an urgency and fear began to grown in place of scorn. All of a sudden, the world was not a comfortable place in which we lived.
We were all shocked and scared. I think back with thanks that none of our patients were too unstable because we were all distracted by the events of the day. As a hospital, we were preparing for overflow from New York and DC, our call charts were being updated, and we were identifying staff to fly to the sites to assist with caring for the injured. It was an Emergency Preparedness Plan that no one ever thought they would have to engage. At home, my husband had just signed his commission into the Army. We wondered if his basic training requirements would be fast tracked and we were heading into a future of unknowns. We were ensured the future we had chosen would be one with conflict, deployments, changes and challenges. We were really walking into a future we could not predict.
Each year when 9-11 rolls through, I, and I am sure many others, want to hold their breath a little. As an individual, I worry that we will be attacked again. Fear creeps into my heart that this will be the year that many more will die senselessly. I find myself trying to avoid the news, or worse, glued to it for news of a new attack. I find myself looking over my shoulder wondering, are we really safe in the heartland of America? I find myself listening more closely than ever for a sound I might not recognize. I find myself hyper-vigilant on this day each year. I find myself really confused about what to pray for.
As a military spouse and daughter, I wonder if America's sons and daughters will again be called up to lay down their lives in defense of freedom. Would this be the year that my husband would leave again? Would my friends be facing similar questions? Would my friends that are currently deployed be safe? Will today be another 9-11? I wonder secretly, if the sacrifice will ever be worth it? Is it possible to spread freedom and peace to nations and sects that seem so adamantly against getting along with their neighbors?
As a Christian, I am mind-boggled that a group of people could hate America so much. We are a country that believes more or less in "live and let live." Modern Christianity doesn't go around killing people to convert them or because of their beliefs. We believe that sacrifice has already been given in Christ. All Christ has asked us to do in return for his sacrifice, is to love one another. To find the best in each other and share God's love. In general, most Christians I know are happy to tell you about their faith if you would like to hear about it, but we have also been brought up that the most important commandment is to love one another, no matter your religion, gender, sexual orientation, race or whatever. Seriously, between being American and Christian, we are at heart a people that like peace. We want to work hard and play hard. We want to enjoy the world that God has given us. We want to take care of it, defend it and share it. We really don't want to be at war, but we will defend peoples' right to believe as they will and defend ourselves from acts of terrorism. Although war may be what we must do in order to protect the most people, it isn't at heart what we really WANT to do. We just want people to get along. How bad can that be? I am really confused why this cannot be good for the world at large, nor why this would be such a bone of contention from a group of people who are solely being asked to just love one another. It's like my mama used to tell me, "If you cannot say anything nice, don't say anything at all."
No one is going to be happy or free in a world controlled by terrorists.
As 9-11 rolls around, I run. I run for those that lost their lives in New York, In Pennsylvania, in DC. I run for those that have continued to lose their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan in defense of freedom and a call to stabilize the world at large. I run for those civilians that have lost their lives around the world from acts of terrorism. I run for those that have served, who are serving both military and civilian, as firefighters and health care providers to take care of our people, to defend them and to nurture the world into a better place. And as 9-11 rolls around, I try to pray. I am not sure what to pray for, but I pray that I have faith in God, and in the big-picture scope of 9-11 that God's love will triumph.
On 9-11, I remember.