Yesterday was definitely a day of reflection. Unfortunately it was reflecting on a hugely tragic event that has unequivocally changed our country. I tried to avoid the mass amounts coverage of the whole situation, I tried to not read the multiple blog posts about it, but I'm drawn to them more than the news stories. I'm not sure why, but most likely because had those events not happened, a large number of the people that I care about would not be involved in a war that has so severely divided my beloved country.
Ten years ago, I was a young teenager in my junior year of high school. That morning, I had no clue what happened. Not a single clue, none of my teachers even mentioned that something happened. The first time I even heard an inkling of it all was when my friend Ashley came to our lunch table and said that her mom called and told her that there had been some major things going on and that we should all go straight home after school. All of us. Then we all pushed it out of our minds and it wasn't mentioned again for the rest of the school day. That afternoon, my boyfriend at the time, Jacob, picked me up like always and we headed out for our usual afternoon activities of me doing my homework, going to dinner, etc. He filled me in on what he knew but it wasn't much as he worked nights and had been asleep nearly all morning/early afternoon. We headed back to my house and he turned on the news while I worked on a homework assignment for my chem class, I think. I wasn't paying attention to the news, chem was my hardest class ever, I had to focus. What I saw was disturbing, but hell, I was in middle of nowhere Ohio and was so....unaffected...by it all. To a teenager, if it wasn't happening to me, it wasn't really happening. I could put it out of my mind. That is until we met Jacob's dad for dinner. He quickly brought the situation home when he started talking about local army bases and airfields coming together in case this terrorist attack got worse and came farther into the country. He mentioned how close we were to Rickenbacker and other such places, how we could easily be on the list for an attack as well. These things made me think, but I was still far enough away from the situation that it was hard for me to comprehend how I should react, how I should deal with what was going on. I didn't understand how this would change this country, how it would ultimately change me. That night when I got home, I sat with my dad and watched the news, watched how he reacted. This man, my father, a soldier himself in what felt like a whole other life, how would he react to such a brazen attack on this nation? He reacted with anger, sadness, and so many other complex emotions that I felt tinges of, but didn't really know what to do with at the time.
Cut to today. I recorded the 102 Minutes documentary thing that aired on a bunch of networks yesterday morning. It took me well over 24 hours to get the nerve to watch it. A lot of it is quite similar to the news stories I remember watching in the days after 9/11, but now I watch it with adult eyes. Eyes that know the outcome - an outcome that includes seeing a soldier's funeral for a friend and frightening phone calls about another soldier friend hit by a bomb in a sandy country so very far away from home. Eyes that know the majority of those firemen you see going in, aren't going to come out - a fact that absolutely breaks my heart because I know my brother the fireman would absolutely be in those buildings trying to get people out just as it would come down around him. Eyes that know that there are people jumping from 100 stories up because they thought that was better than where they were - a fact that will haunt me and will undoubtedly change how I decide things in my life. I am, without a doubt, a different person now than I was then. A person changed by a situation that happened so many miles away that I thought wouldn't affect me anywhere near as much as it did.
My heart will always break each and every time I hear about September 11th. It breaks for everyone on the planes, frightened and trying to figure out what to do. For everyone in the buildings, watching and unable to change their fate. For every single EMT and fire fighter and police officer that responded, the ones that never got to say goodbye and the ones that were missing for days and the ones that finally made it home, scarred and broken forever. For every single person in the streets watching what what was happening, not understanding or knowing how to help or where to find safety in such chaos. For every single 911 operator that told people to stay in their offices and wait for people to come to them only to find out that their instructions were not the right ones. For every single news person that had to bring such horrendous news to us. My heart breaks and weeps for people I will never meet, people that are more broken and hurt than me, people that I will never forget.