I can tell you where I was on September 11, 2001. I had been married for 15 months but had only spent about 10 or 11 of them with my husband. He was on active duty with the Navy and stationed in Pt. Mugu, CA since May of 2001 to prepare to go on deployment. We had been living in Illinois near our families prior to that and rather than move me to CA only to be left alone there during his deployment, I chose to stay in Illinois until his deployment ended. That meant from May 2001 to January 2002 we would be apart. It turned out to be a wise decision because I couldn’t imagine having to deal with what happened alone in California. I’m glad I had family and friends around me.
My husband was an AT, an aircraft electronics technician on the E-2C Hawkeye, the big radar plane. This is an E-2:
His squadron left in August 2001 for a routine deployment on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to the middle east. Routine. Yeah.
On September 11th I went to work like any other day. I had already been living every day simply to get to the next one in the hopes that January would come quickly so I could see Ed again. I remember that morning like I was seeing it in slow motion.
We had email, and Ed and I always emailed in the mornings. That morning was no different but this time Ed had told me he had heard that a plane hit the World Trade Center. At that point, it was still thought to be an accident, at least by most of us. That was the last email I got from him for awhile. As news of a second plane hit the TV stations, my emails were being returned as undeliverable. I went numb at the mention of terrorists and the next few months were the longest of my entire life.
I knew he was safe. If anything happened to an aircraft carrier, the world would be about to end, so I knew that he was actually safer than we were. But still I didn’t sleep. For months I stayed awake nights watching the news waiting for word that the USS Carl Vinson would return from deployment on time. I remember one email I woke up to a few weeks or so after 9/11 that read “we’re going to hit ’em.” The news that day was reporting that we moved on Afghanistan.
In the end, he returned safely and on time. I was proud that he was able to serve his country and do the job he was born to do. And while he missed me desperately as well, I know that he is glad that he was out there to be a part of it. Not that he was glad it happened; but soldier, sailor or marine, it is in your blood, and if it comes time to help protect your country, you want to be involved. The average person doesn’t understand this, I don’t even fully understand it, but it’s part of the drive that sends them to this service to begin with.
I can hear the freedom bell ring….
I haven’t forgotten. I don’t think I ever will. I know my kids won’t because the minute they are old enough to understand, I want them to know the history and hear the stories. I want them to be proud of their daddy and proud of their country. I don’t want them to be afraid and I want them to know that their family and their country are here to protect everything that we hold dear. Sometimes you do have to fight to protect what you believe in.
For us, for our future and for those that lost their lives and the family members of those that were left without mothers, brothers, daughters, sons, husbands, fathers, uncle, aunts, friends, and more. For those that went above and beyond the call of duty to help in the aftermath and for those already in service to this country. I will remember not only where I was on September 11, 2001, I will remember and honor those people.