Monday, September 11, 2006


Five years ago today it was a Tuesday. It was an absolutely gorgeous early fall day in southwest Virginia. Out of courtesy, the day should have been more like it is today: foggy, misty rain, and dark. A warning. An invitation to remain in bed and remain innocent just a little while longer.

I remember the cell phone call from Danny letting me know that a plane had hit the Twin Towers. My response – what kind of crazy pilot could miss such a big building? The second tower was hit as I waited at the light at the bottom of the hill leading to my office. I knew then that there couldn’t have been two “idiot” pilots who made the same mistake within an hour of each other.

Over the next few nights, I finished a canvas needlework sampler that I framed and gave to Danny for our fourth anniversary later that year. Each square in this sampler took a minimum of 45 minutes to complete. I finished two and a half rows of 12 over those three nights while I was glued to the news. I need to document the circumstances under which that piece was finished and attach it to be the back of the frame for posterity.

On Friday morning as I drove to work, there was a new billboard along the highway. It was quite simple: a flowing American flag with the words “I’m Proud to be an American.” That is when I broke down and cried like an abandoned baby. I was scared about what was to come. I was terrified to have to worry about my safety and the safety of my family just because we were born here. I realized that I felt that morning like many people feel every day. Life shouldn’t have to be that way.

I turned 30 less than a month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It is funny how hitting that milestone wasn’t as hard as I was anticipating it to be.

Other than anticipating all breaking news stories to be terror related, my daily life has changed very little.

It seems strange to me that my daughters will never experience the 20th century. It’s even stranger to me that they will never know life pre-9/11. What will they think when they get old enough? Since they won’t have lived through what came before, will 9/11 be to them the way that Pearl Harbor or the Kennedy assassination is to me? Will their only interest be in asking people where they were when it happened? At least they won’t have a problem remembering the anniversary dates.

In February of 2005, I flew to Michigan with 3 month-old Allison to attend Meridith’s wedding. We were stopped at the security checkpoint and I was made to take Allison’s outfit off and open her diaper. I was furious that my infant daughter’s privacy had been invaded like that. We were no threat to security. What woman would use her baby to blow up a plane? My anger quickly changed to anxiety as I flew on a plane with a colicky baby. Allison didn’t cry once. I had nothing to worry about.

2006: There are many movies coming out about 9/11. Other than the movie about Flight 93, I have no interest in seeing them. It’s still too fresh for me. I can still recall the visions of those news programs. Just as I’ll probably never watch The Passion of the Christ again, I don’t want to relive that day in the medium of something generally considered to be entertainment.

August 10, 2006: Another airline terrorist plot was foiled in London. One of the suspects: a woman with a baby. She intended to use the baby to help carry out those attacks. Had it not been stopped ahead of time, would they have been lucky enough to check that baby’s diapers?

Patriot Day, 2006: I really would just like to ignore today. I want to forget about its significance. I can’t do that. The luxury of burying our heads in the sand has been lost. As a nation, we were lucky to have held on to it as long as we did. Tonight I will light a candle and set it out on the front porch. A small light to let my departed co-patriots know that I am thinking about them. A small hope that their sacrifices will not be in vain.


Kary said...

It is a heavy day. I was not really allowing myself to think too hard about it. I thank you for taking the time to reflect. I know I should do more of that--but, often times, it is easier to gloss over it and not think too hard.
I have to believe that our children will grow up in a world where they can be safe and live healthy, full lives. thinking any other way is futile.
We can do our part--in our corner of the world to promote peace in our lives and those around us. Thanks, jennifer.

DD said...

In some ways, I'm glad my son is still too young to understand.

There was a suicide bomber, I believe in Irag, who blew herself up. She was pregnant. It makes me so sad to think someone could take so many innocent lives w/o a second thought.

Lynn said...

I appreciate your honesty about just wanting to hide this day away.
I think we all want that, and like you we can't.

Yeah I feel guilty now because one major day of significance attached to North America reguarding terrorist attacks does not equal what others live with every day.
We dont have to hear missiles flying past our children on their way to school, like other mothers around the world have to do.


My remember is up

Melissa said...

I had no idea they were checking baby's diapers! Wow! What a difficult thing to go through, but as you point out later, there are people who think nothing of using innocent children to help them accomplish their purposes. I know it is hard to remember 9-11, but I pray as a nation we never forget. Not only because we owe that to those who died, but because with forgetfulness comes complacency and that leads to more events like 9-11.