We all know where we were when it happened. I was home sick from school, lying in my mom’s bed watching The Price Is Right. “We interrupt your regularly scheduled program for breaking news.” I was in 9th grade and at first it was almost; confusing. How could a plane hit a giant building? Then the 2nd one hit and I sat there in shock. I called my mom at work to see if she had heard what was going on. She told me she would be home for lunch and not to worry… but then the plane hit the Pentagon and that is where my aunt worked. I called my mom back and she kept telling me she thought my aunt was probably on a business trip because she traveled a lot for her government job. Then my dad called; he was an officer in the North Dakota National Guard so I figured he would have answers. But he didn’t. He had called my grandparents, his mom and dad, to see if they had heard from his sister… nothing.
While my family was scrambling to find out information on my aunt, the country and the world watched all the events of 9/11/2001 unfold on live TV. I was glued to it, hoping to find answers and maybe see my aunt. A couple hours after it all started we got word that my aunt had made it out and was OK. A sigh of relief for my family but the families of 2,996 would never get to see their loved ones again.
The aftermath left a country and a world crippled by fear.
You would think that living in small town North Dakota would have meant that this fear would keep us from leaving, keep us tucked away in our quiet little corner of the world that no one really cared about or in some cases didn’t even know existed. But my parents were not having any of that; we were not going to live in fear. They sent me off with my youth group 2 years later to fly to Atlanta, GA for 10 days for a youth gathering. Two weeks after that I flew to San Diego, CA as the youth liaison for the North Dakota National Guard Family Support Program. If they had any fear of me flying or going to these highly populated destinations they never showed it besides the typical, be careful, listen to the chaperones, and be vigilant. The summer of 2004, while my dad was deployed to Iraq, my mom sent me off to Australia for 2 weeks with minimal adult supervision to participate in the “Down Under Bowl” as a member of the cheer and dance team.
My younger sister set off on a 3 month backpacking trip across Europe by herself at the beginning of 2015 and was in France when the Charlie Hebdo attack happened. My parents were scared for her safety and encouraged her to stay away from certain places and to be extra careful but they also encouraged her to go and explore during this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Now that I am a mother, I realize how scary it probably was for my parents to let us go and explore and travel during the uncertain times following 9/11. Honestly, it is still scary, especially with the uptick of terrorist attacks in Europe. As I write this my sister is getting ready to go back to Europe to visit friends for a week. By the time you read this I am sure she will be back safe and sound but it is still scary; I can only imagine how my parents feel about it.
The world changed forever after 9/11. Fear and hate filled peoples’ hearts. Now that I am a mom, I will make sure my children know what happed that day and will honor the fallen every year on 9/11. My son just turned two and I know that no matter what, I do not what him to live in fear and I do not want to stop him from experiencing life because I am scared for him. If my parents taught me anything it was that we should not live in fear of what might happen, if you do that nothing will ever happen.