Today is tough. Every year, for the last 10 years, this day has been tough.
I live in the N. VA/metro DC area-- about 15 minutes or so from the Pentagon. I moved here in the summer of 2000 from Randolph AFB in San Antonio, Texas (HOME Ü), and had been living here for about 7 months on September 11, 2001.
The biggest thing I noticed when I moved here was, how noisy and crowded it was.
That morning when I kissed Casey goodbye, I didn't pay much attention to when he said his meeting at the Pentagon was-- that day or the next. He had meetings there all the time so it wasn't any different from any other day.
That morning, I was already watching the news when the coverage of the first plane hitting the WTC was announced. On such a clear day, it seemed wrong. What idiot wouldn't fly around that huge building?! Little did we know that our national nightmare was just beginning.
My daughter Ashley was at home with me and we watched the news as the second airplane hit the other WTC tower.
Being a military wife, my radar immediately went up. We went down to the basement and started watching the news down there and I started trying to call Casey. No answer.
I started to panic a little bit at that point. I knew the next hit would be somewhere close. NYC wasn't going to be the only target if we were truly under attack. I was trying to remember what Casey had told me about a meeting at the Pentagon-- was it that day or the next? I didn't know. What I did know was that I needed to hear him and know he was ok and not at the Pentagon.
Soon, Ash and I both felt a concussion from the floor. I knew we'd been hit then but didn't know where. Then they announced a plane had hit the Pentagon. I got hysterical at that point.
Casey was able to get through on a phone about 1/2 hour later to let me know he was at Bolling AFB and was ok and he was going to try to get home.
Our family was one of the lucky ones. We were all safe and ok.
Not so for so many others.
That night we watched and waited as car after car left the "slug line" in our development. We knew those families would be ok too.
A few cars stayed parked in the line for days and those were people who never made it home that day or ever again.
And then, for the next week or so, DC, N. VA, and my neighborhood were eerily quiet. No traffic, no trains, and the only planes we heard in the sky were those of the jets that were keeping a vigil on the Capitol. There were no jet liners to listen to and look up at as they made their way on final to Dulles. Just quiet. Only after we recovered from the shock of that day, did we all start trying to pick up the pieces of our lives and adjust to the new "normal".
I went to church, held my family closer, told them I loved them more often, let my friends know how grateful I was for their friendship, basically everything you do when something so precious is taken from you but you're still alive only now you have a gaping hole in your heart.
We were all hurting and needed each other so badly.
I will never forget that day-- I remember it like it was yesterday.
I drive by that slug line almost every day. If I leave my house, I drive by that line. There hasn't been once that I haven't thought about or said a prayer for those who didn't make it back to their cars that day.
I was a 100% patriotic American before 9-11. What happened that day made me even more so.
I love my country. I support all those who honor and defend her. I constantly pray for those who go into harm's way to protect me and my family. I know the sacrifice they make and I never forget the price they pay to keep us free.
My heart, my thoughts, and my prayers go out to those families that lost someone that day. I know that void can't possibly be filled but I still hope your pain eases as time goes by.
My heart, my thanks, and my prayers go out to those who defended us before that day and to those who defend us now in response to that day.
Saying "Thank you" just doesn't seem like enough-- please know I mean it with my whole heart...
May God bless you all.