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9/11: A Day Remembered

A Day in HistoryCrystal Chapman

Today is such a vivid day in my memory, as I’m sure it is for all of you. I remember where I was, what I was doing, and that I pretty much cried all day. We watched the second tower get hit live on television while in global history class. I remember that frantic feeling among teachers and students, as we all very quietly exited school. It’s as if we were all in a trance. A trance caused by shock, pain, horror and fear to name a few. I remember watching the news all day long from my cousin’s home because I was babysitting their baby girl. I sat and rocked her, and cried. What was happening and what did it mean for our future?

Now that I am a parent, I often wonder what kind of world did I bring my children into? My son entered kindergarten a few weeks ago – will they talk to his class about the significance of this day? As much as we work hard to not shelter our children, is he too young to hear this? Will learning about this very significant day in our history take away some of his innocence?

Thousands went to bed on the eve of 9/11 and finished the day with their lives forever changed.

A United Front

My sister told me a story recently that’s been sticking with me. She witnessed a 3 car accident and barely missed being the 4th vehicle involved. She was on a multi-lane highway on her way home from her nursing job, and in the pouring rain, she ran across the highway to take care of those in need. She’s both an RN and prior soldier. She needed to stay, right? She was obligated to…but was she really? No, she wasn’t. She could have thanked her lucky stars, called the paramedics and left, but instead she crossed the highway and risked her safety to help others. She did what needed to be done and didn’t question it. THAT’S what us Americans are about. THAT’S what we all saw when we were attacked. We were united.

Selfless individuals – military and civilian – are what make this country of ours so great. We take for granted so much in our lives and it’s a shame, but we’re all so very human. It’s insane to think this was so long ago that children are learning about this in books and will never know or feel what that was like. As horrible and terrifying 9/11 was, it was so very uniting.

A Patriotic Response

I remember enlisting in the Army Reserves that following summer and sworn in as a junior in high school on 7/1/2002. It’s kind of unbelievable to think I made such a big decision at only 17, but it was what I wanted to do. I remember at basic training, we were asked to say WHY we chose to enlist and the amount of people that stood and said “because of 9/11” probably encompassed the majority of the room. While I never served overseas and my time was served as a Reservist, I’m still honored to have served. I don’t often share I served because I was “just a reservist” but I am still proud of what I accomplished. I know I learned skills, life lessons and things about ME I may never have learned – especially at that early of an age in life.

Some of my greatest friends are fellow soldiers, both reservists and active duty, and across all branches. There’s a unity there regardless of where you fall in that group and it’s pretty amazing. My father, brother in law and best friend are among some that served overseas. It’s insane to think my brother in law and best friend wouldn’t be in my life had it not been for the military.

We are American

So with that, I’d like for you all to maybe take a step back and reflect on where you were. For those of us old enough to remember when the attack occurred, it’s impossible not to remember. On this day in 2018, it’s hard to believe this hateful and horrible nightmare took place 17 years ago on 9/11. History books are now printed with stories from 9/11 to educate those too young or not born yet to learn about.

We are American and will always find a way to come together in a time of crisis and need, and we will always rise above the occasion. But I do wish it didn’t take tragedy to see that American front so clearly. Be the change. Help someone today. Go out of your way to be kind. Thank a soldier, a family member of a soldier, law enforcement officer or first responder. And please be one to stop the next time you see someone in need.

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