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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Where Were You?

My hot topic of the week is the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is on Sunday. I always am intrigued to hear people's stories about where they were on that fateful morning that 9/11 forever changed our world. I'm not sure why that interests me so, but it does for whatever reason. Here my September 11, 2001-2011 story.

First a little background...I come from a line of the most honorable civil serants. My papaw (dad's dad) was in the military in Korea when he was just a boy of 18 years old. He came home and joined the local police department. They had him start the same day he inquired about a job. From there, a family tradition was born. Papaw dedicated his life to his job and even met (and eventually got re-married to) my Gran Gran because she was a cop too. He retired 10 years ago from the police department with the ranking of Assistant Police Chief. My dad joined the police department when he was 23 years old ( I was 2 at the time), and has been a loyal ranking official for 24 years now. My baby brother, who is 21, has been a firefighter for over a year now. And now, my wonderful boyfriend of almost 7 years is currently in the police academy. Needless to say, I swell with pride when I get the chance to brag on these men in my life. They are brave and honorable and they lay their lives on the line every day. Even better, they are my family.

My 9/11 story is like many others, I'm sure. I was in the fall semester of my senior year in high school in 2001 (man, that makes me feel old!). We were in 1st block when the normal morning ammouncement came over the loud speaker. My teacher was not done talking for the day, so he silenced the announcements. The bell rings and class is dismissed. I walk out into a furious buzz of rumors in the high school hallway - usually a typical scene, but today the buzz is somber and scary. "There was an attack in New York at the World Trade Center? A plane crashed into a building by terrorists?" Confusion strangled me. I rushed to my next class where the TV was on CNN, and I began to soak in the story of what was happening. Here I am, a 16 year old girl in Clinton, TN watching the world unfold before my eyes. I remember rapid thoughts firing through my mind. My 17th birthday was less than a week away, and yet I wasn't sure if I would live to see that day. A mountain of uncertainty, a world of fear, and a stream of tears followed. Sitting in my 2nd block class, I was astonished to see (before my very eyes) yet another plane crash into the 2nd twin tower. I couldn't believe they were showing it on TV! I felt like I was watching a movie that was well beyond my years and should have been censored for my young eyes. I would consider myself a very patriotic person. Although I do not have any immediate family in the military; I STRONGLY support our troops and even had the brief notion to join the military myself before this debacle. I was terrified, overwhelmed, confused...the list goes on. I just kept wondering what was going to happen next? Lunch rolls around and by now I've seen the first twin tower crumble to ground like a Jenga game. My 3rd block class was showchoir with Mrs. Ingle. Of course, the TV in the classroom was on the news  so we could watch our worlds unfold minute by minute. She took a moment to mute the drama on the TV and encouraged us to sing our National Anthem. We sang this song for every football and basketball game at our school, so we knew our parts well. Most of us couldn't even make it through the song without crying. It was, and will always be to me, the most beatiful version of our National Anthem that I've ever heard. It felt so lathargic to sing those words, and feel a sense of national pride.

Fast forward to today, 3 days before the 10th anniversary of that ill fated day in American history. I am older (gag), wiser, but not stronger when it comes to this topic. Actually, I probably get more emotional these days when I tell my 9/11 story. I live in a town that is within mere miles of Oak Ridge, TN. For decades, Oak Ridge has thought to have been/still be a target for terrotist attacks due to the nuclear weapons facility and national lab that are housed there. What if the attack had been in Tennessee? In East TN? In Oak Ridge? What if my dad would have responded to an attack? Gosh, my tears are flowing now because that's a scary thought. God Bless NYFD and NYPD for their heroic efforts that day! God Bless all the firefighters and police officers around the country who fight each day to keep their towns safe! God Bless the troops that put themselves in the line of duty for me to have a free country! And God Bless my free country and all that it stands for!

I will now step down off my soapbox....until next week :)

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