I wasn’t going to write anything about 9/11 today. We all remember where we were that day. We all reflect on the events of the day in our own personal ways. It wasn’t until I interrupted our usual morning routine that I felt the call to write. The kiddos were watching Daniel Tiger on PBS. Our usual for a weekday morning. I looked at the time, and switched it to CNN. Punk, who was snuggled up under a blanket next to me, looked up & asked, “Why are we watching the news, Mama?” Why indeed.
Today is my niece’s birthday. She was born before the attacks, but grew up only remembering a world after the attacks. 13 years ago, I sat in a rocking chair at my brother’s house, holding my toddler niece close. The news was on TV. I just held her and cried. As a young teenager, I had no idea what was going to happen. Things at school had been so crazy. Speculations of who was behind the attack, was it the end of the world, were we going to war, etc. Looking at Kaylee, she still had her innocence intact because she was only a toddler. I wasn’t so lucky. My belief that we were safe at home had been shattered. Now she is the teenager and I have the child of innocence.
Punk doesn’t know what it’s like to have his whole world turned upside down other than going from only child to big brother. We haven’t been through a deployment as a family. He knows daddy is a soldier and is a hero in his eyes. He has only lived in a world without Bin Laden or Hussein. He is living in the time of the threat of ISIS/ISIL, but thanks to his innocence, he doesn’t understand that a threat is brewing. All he’s concerned with is watching his shows/movies, playing, & picking on his sister. I love his innocence and hope he can hold on to it for a long time.
I don’t know if/when hubby will deploy again. It’s been almost 5 years since his last deployment started and his regiment is due at any time now. I know that as soon as we receive that news, a part of Punk’s innocence will shatter. His daddy will have to go away. His daddy will most likely have to go to a conflict torn area.
It’s been 13 years. I was in seventh grade. I was sitting in woodwind concert band. Our principal came over the intercom shortly after the first tower was hit. We thought it had to be a mistake. We watched in horror as people jumped from windows. I was walking to third period algebra and had just walked through the door to see the second tower struck. There were shouts all over the school. It wasn’t a mistake. We were under attack. I grew up quickly that year. That was the first event of several that threw my childhood headlong into turmoil. My world was destroyed. Less than a week later, a family friend who was like an uncle, died. My parents’ marriage started falling apart. I was in a dark place. But the sweet innocence of my niece saved me.
My senior year on student council, we got to shadow different members of city council. I chose the fire chief. I got to see them use the jaws of life on a car cause the lady complained of neck pain. That was interesting, but not the thing that pops into my mind first around this time of year. It’s the screeching noise that blasted through the TV after the towers crashed. That high piercing siren? Remember it? Yeah, it haunts my nightmares even more since that day in high school. In 7th grade I didn’t know. In high school I found out. It’s a sensor on a firefighter’s suit that sets off an alarm after the firefighter has been still for so long. It’s an alarm for other firefighters to be able to find them. All of those alarms were of firefighters who lost their lives trying to save others. I can hear it in my mind now. Punk is obsessed with firefighters right now and seeing pictures this time of year brings those alarms to my mind and they won’t go away.
This year, remembering 9/11 is hard. Why? Punky is at the age of asking questions about everything. Why are we watching the news? What are the firefighter heroes doing? What’s wrong, Mama? Can I watch Daniel Tiger?
How do I explain to a toddler? Why are we watching the news? Because 13 years ago, long before you were born or thought of, the world changed in a single day. Why? A lot of bad things happened that day. Yes, it’s the understatement of the century, but he’s a toddler and I want to preserve his innocence for as long as I can. I showed him a photo of three firefighters and the American flag. I asked him who the people were. He told me firefighter heroes. Yes, Punk. They were and are heroes. The first responders, the civilians, the military, all of them. Those who fought back and helped that day are heroes. We will always remember them. We will always honour them.
I close my eyes and see images I pray he never has to see. I know he will on the 9/11 anniversary if the news is on, or they watch documentaries in school, but I mean I hope he never has to LIVE it. Safe in Tennessee, miles and miles away from the field in Pennsylvania, DC, or NYC, I was still impacted. Not as much as the families of the victims, obviously, but my life has never been the same since then. I hope and pray my children never have to live through a day like 9/11.
I could write so much more, but I am changing the channel from the news back to PBS. It’s time to put back on my happy, whimsical mama face and watch Sesame Street, Dinosaur Train, Princess Sofia, and Doc McStuffins. I will continue to reflect mentally, but for my kiddos, today will go back to a normal day so that I might preserve their innocence for one more year. Children grow up too fast as it is. I can only pray that my children’s childhood is not marred by darkness as mine was.
9/11. Never forget. God bless the USA.