On 9-11-01 I was in my room at my parent's house, getting ready to go to college at SIUE. I had the news on in the background, but my mind wasn't on it - I was thinking of my nephew, because it was his birthday. I remember looking at the TV . . . and then suddenly it registered what had happened. I listened to the radio and cried all the way to school. When I got there, the TV's were on in the University Center and everyone was gathered around them. It was unreal. A lot of my classes were canceled that day, and I headed into work early.
Back then I worked for the Illinois State Police, and I thought if I felt safe anywhere it was at work, surrounded by guys who were protective and passionate about it. Also, I was worried for this girl that I knew (and her family) who worked at a restaurant gas station near work where I regularly ate lunch. She was obviously from the Middle East and I had heard stories of Middle Easterners and their businesses being targeted that day. Earlier that summer she had reached out to me and we started to talk everyday that I went in there. One day she told me she liked my eyeliner, so I bought her some and gave it to her as a present. I remember driving by on 9-11 to see if I could see her in the restaurant window (I was too afraid to go in in case someone targeted her family while I was in there) and see if she was OK. I don't think she was there, but I was not brave enough to go in and check on her. I did end up seeing her a few more times, and we didn't talk at all - I didn't know what to say, and I don't think she did either. Eventually I stopped going there for lunch.
Today was the memorial service at the firehouse where my husband volunteers. It hit me how much the world really has changed since then. I heard some children - who were not born yet on the day of the attacks - singing "God Bless America" (the country version, lol) and they got really loud at the part where they sing "I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free!" They really seem to get that, if nothing else about what this day stands for now, and I think that's neat.
I also am so very proud of my husband. I realized for the first time how unselfish it really is to be a first responder. Cory, whether he likes it or not, does exactly what it says in John 15:13: "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." That is why I was so scared to have him join the fire department, why I refused to let him ever even entertain the idea of joining the military - because Cory is a first responder in the truest sense of the word. He does it willingly, no complaining, no thinking about it first. Wow, that is scary for his wife!!! I got teary today just thinking about it - Cory would have been in there if we lived in New York. Yes, he absolutely would have.
But we Americans are living in the "land of the free, and home of the brave" and so we must be brave. And here's to my hero, and the heroes that are no longer with us. They are the brave ones when we cannot be, and some have had to pay the highest price for it. God bless you all!