I did not blog about September 11 on September 11. I did not post anything on Facebook about it. In fact, the only people I talked to about it on 9/11 at all were Oliver, who asked questions after school, and my big sister, who relives it every year, remembering how she watched it all happen from a rooftop in New York.
It isn’t that I don’t think it’s important. I certainly did not forget. We will never forget. Nobody in the United States who was alive will forget. We all know exactly where we were when we heard it, when we saw it, when we turned on the television and saw the towers collapsing.
One of the traditions since 9/11 happened has been to share, on the anniversary, what you were doing when you heard. Where you were. Who you were with. Who you were worried about. How it affected you. Inasmuch as you look forward to anniversaries of tragedies, I look forward to these memories as they are shared. But I do not reciprocate.
It isn’t that I was terribly affected by 9/11. By all accounts, aside from the way that all Americans were affected by it, it didn’t change much about my life at all. My experience was not unique. I cried—but the whole nation cried. I was filled with pride for all of the heroes of the days and weeks to follow—as we all were, and are. My heart swelled when I heard Lee Greenwood’s “Proud To Be An American”, and still does. The Star Spangled Banner suddenly seemed more meaningful to me, a newly naturalized American citizen, immigrant to this country. And I still cry every single time I hear Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning”.
But I also remember the good that came from 9/11. All of a sudden, for the first time in my life at least, we were one nation, under God, indivisible. The good of people shone through, and our great country was not destroyed by tragedy. We were strengthened. We were united. We were Americans, and it suddenly meant so much more to be an American than it had before.
My husband, the devilishly handsome Kullervo, joined the Army National Guard after 9/11… but not right after, and not as a direct result of it, although to say that it had no bearing on the decision would be disingenuous of me. He joined right before we invaded Iraq, and we were fortunate in that we did not have to deal with the atrocities of war which so many of our friends have endured.
So, like all Americans, the events of September 11 affected our family. But, through being a military wife and getting to know an amazing group of women, I have seen how 9/11 has affected their families. I have heard the stories of the PTSD from these wars we’ve been in since 9/11 that has changed marriages, hurt families, and resulted in suicides. I have friends who lost loved ones, on that day and in the days, weeks, and years to follow.
There are people with stories that turn my stomach and hurt my heart. Their stories need to be told. Their stories are the ones I want to remember and never forget. My heart cries for those who were lost, both during and afterwards, both through death and through emotional turmoil. My prayers went out to our nation, bleeding and suffering, and still do. My prayers still go out to the awful people in the world who are taught to hate instead of to love, who are taught to do evil. I don’t excuse them the evil things they do, but I pray for them, because Jesus told me to.
So, the reason I don’t share my story every year is not that I don’t remember. It isn’t that I don’t care, or that I don’t think it isn’t important. I turn inward, and light a candle for the memories, and pray to God for sense to made from the senseless, for beauty to rise from the ashes, for joy to replace the heartache.