This time of year is one that is filled with an array of chaos and emotion. Back to school of course is exciting and as a mom of now 2nd grader and preschooler my home is filled with the smell of new crayons and sharpened pencils. Behind the child centered joy there is a lingering weight, weight from a memory of a tragic change in our country, and in my own life.
In 2001 my husband had enlisted in the Navy and we were preparing for the crazy journey of military life. In September of 2001 we had just arrived in Norfolk, VA to our very first duty station. I will remember that morning of September 11th for the rest of my life. Like everyone it started out simply and the world didn’t feel any different, little did I know I would become a fixture attached to CNN and MSNBC.
That morning I took my Sailor to his ship. It was my first time driving to the base and seeing his ship from the outside. As I dropped him off we said our “I love yous” and I journeyed to the base Autoport for the inspection needed to get our base decals. As I sat in the Autoport I was watching the Today show when I heard the news. There in that moment the process in my mind was moving faster than I could have ever imagined…and yet suddenly the world was in slow motion. I watched as the second plane hit the World Trade Center, and my brain rushed to my knowledge of Pearl Harbor, and I knew…without word from a president we were suddenly a world at war.
A man looked in at me from the doorway handing me my inspection and saying, “Ma’am you need to head over to Pass and Decal, I called them they are expecting you. You need to go now, the base is locking down.” I walked in a haze to my car, reeling, the lives lost…and the life I was suddenly thrust into. My husband was now part of a wartime Navy, not at all the Navy I was thinking we would live in. I drove back to the pier where the ship was docked. It still seemed cloaked in peace, but I later learned there was chaos in there as word of the attacks moved along the pea ways.
The woman who kissed her seaman recruit in early 2001 was suddenly and instantly evolved to a war time wife. In the matter of days, moments I was learning how to field Navy life in a whole new Navy. I look back at that girl I was and think how much I have changed. I learned so much in such a short time, not just about military life, but about myself. I learned how resilient I could be, how much I could count on myself, and how much I love the military community that even then in a national crisis took me in and helped me walk tall when scared. I’ve seen what 9/11 has done to this military community, we’ve had friends deployed, my friends have lost spouses, and all along the way we have been surrounded by each other. And together we live in this crazy, amazing, wonderful military life.