Even before 9/11/2001, September 11 was a date on which I struggled. It is my ex-husband's birthday and the anniversary of the finalization of our divorce. On 9/11/01, I was trying to assimilate the fact that my ex and I had been divorced for exactly one year as I got myself ready for work and my two very young children off to school. As was my habit at the time, I had "The Today Show" on in the living room as I made the last minute preparations for the day ahead and enjoyed a second cup of coffee.
I remember sitting down on the big chair in our living room just as the Today show broke out of commercial to show the first shot of a World Trade Center tower with a gaping hole in it's side and smoke pouring out of it. Katie Couric and Matt Lauer were trying to figure out what exactly had happened - I remember them saying something about a small plane possibly being the cause of the damage. "No way that was a Cessna," I remember saying to myself. A few minutes later, I watched in absolute horror as a secon9/d plane crashed into the other tower, a huge explosion shooting fire and debris everywhere. All I could think was "Oh my God, we're being attacked."
From my vantage point in far-away Minnesota, the horrors of that day were no less real to me than they may have been to some living in NYC. I know that we're often viewed as "fly-over" country, but the damage and deaths inflicted in NYC, DC and Pennsylvania seared my heart and made me weep. I watched every moment of coverage that I could - finding work that didn't require a computer so I could sit in the office conference room where a TV was available to follow the events as they unfolded. I remember being dumbfounded by the remarks made by the TV commentators that the towers wouldn't fall - wondering "how could they sustain what they just had happen and not come down?" and then watching helplessly as the first and then the second tower came crashing down. The horror still fills me today as I watch the events replay on the Memorial coverage all over the TV.
Trying to explain my tears to my 8 year old this morning proved futile - her mind doesn't grasp exactly what happened and 11 years ago seems such a long time to her. But, she's never lived in anything but a post-9/11 world. She's never walked through airport security with out having to take her shoes off. She's never not had two wars going on (and an Uncle and Cousin who have served in both arenas). She's never seen a military person and not had the desire, at least since she's been old enough to recognize military uniforms, to thank them for their service to our country. She may not understand exactly what happened that day, but someday, she will.
My oldest daughter was in 1st grade at the time of the attacks. This year she has entered her final year of High School - a momentous year with a lot of choices and adventures waiting for her. Watching the election coverage, understanding what I do about Obama's plans for the country, then re-watching the 9/11 coverage has further strengthened my resolve that my daughter's school choice be somewhere in the Midwest. She's had offers from schools as far away as NYC and Georgia, and while those schools have been considered, I don't believe she'll choose either one. Though her father lives on the East Coast, so any EC school would put her in closer proximity to him, she doesn't want to leave the Midwest and nor do I want her to be far away either. My fear is that if Obama is re-elected, scenes like we witnessed 11 years ago will happen again, only I'm not sure that it will be Al Qaeda who commits those acts on Americans. I don't believe financially we can handle even 2 more years of Obama - and with economic turmoil, social turmoil will also come. I want my child near enough to me that she can be home on a tank of gas if need-be. Watching the 9/11 coverage solidifies that feeling.
I remember that night, after we had put the kids to bed, my boyfriend and I sat and continued watching the TV coverage - hoping and praying for more survivors to be rescued, praying for the victims and their families and crying. At the time, we lived near the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport and were accustomed to planes flying over on a regular basis, landing or taking off all day and night. The silence was eerie that night as no plane sounds interrupted the quiet. Suddenly, my boyfriend cocked his head and said, "Do you hear that?" I put the TV on mute and listened to the night sounds and replied, "Is that a plane? I thought they were all grounded. What is going on?" We rushed to our patio outside and peered into the night sky as two F-16 jets flew by - on a route circling the Twin Cities.