Friday, September 11, 2009

Not really a humorous day, is it?

Today to me and, I think, most of us is a solemn day.  Working in DC, it brings new meaning seeing the Pentagon daily and listening to the stories of people that were here the day everything changed.  One of the women recalled to me yesterday of watching the Pentagon burn from her office window.  I can't imagine.  I know where I was and what I was feeling.

I was stationed in California and it was just like any other day.  I packed up the boys at 0530 PDT and drove to their caregiver's house.  Her husband met me outside.  I barely pulled up to the curb when he threw open the slider and said, "Give me the boys, you're on alert, we've been attacked."  It was numbing. I had no idea what he was talking about--nothing was on the radio about it yet. 

I drove the 20 miles to my squadron, searching for news.  I ran into our maintenance office where they had set up a TV in time to see the footage of the second plane hitting the towers.  All hell had just broken loose.  We were locked down and none of us were sure if we were going to see our families anytime soon.  We were told to prepare to go to deploying units (I was in a training command at the time) that were short-handed.  All of us were numb.  I think frightened also.  I was stationed on the largest fighter base in the Navy.  It was virtually unsecured by the surrounding farmland.  You could take a dirt road for 10 minutes and be on the freeway.  It was game time and you could feel it. 

I was one of the lucky ones.  My soon to be ex-husband deployed because he was in a deployable unit.  I wound up working hellacious hours but going home to my kids every night. I remember holding them every night and having them sleep in my bed.  I remember most a young kid of 19 that worked for me.  By night, he delivered pizza.  He came to deliver pizza three days later and told  me he needed to talk to me.  His mother, father, sister, brother and brother-in-law all worked in Tower One.  He needed to go home.   He never heard from them again.  He went back to NYC to lay to rest fve empty coffins.  This was on the heels of one of my guys losing his wife on the USS Cole a year earlier.  It was a difficult time for my Navy family.  I can only imagine those that were there first-hand.  

In 2002, I received an email that was forwarded to me from the USS Constellation from a squadron commanding officer.  It was entitled "Why We Do What We Do".  I have searched my emails for it, but I think I printed it out and it's in an envelope somewhere.  They were on a nine month deployment to the Gulf.  They launched one of the first strikes.  There is a picture of him in his cockpit, holding a photo of a woman.  Her name was Sarah.  His jet was painted with her name in remembrance on it.  In fact, every jet in the squadron was painted in a remembrance scheme:  FDNY, NYPD, names of those we knew and those we didn't.  But Sarah?  She was the wife of his intel officer.  She was in the Pentagon.   She was in one of the first offices hit.  It was extremely close to home for that squadron.  He flew with her picture every  mission and reminded his men, "This is why we do what we do".  I was honored to be the first woman in that same squadron the day they came off that deployment (the last airwing to integrate--I wish I wouldn't have had to wait).  I had worked for him previously, but he more than recruited me with that email.  He brought to light why I spent my adult life to that point "doing what I did". 

September 11th should not be the "National Day of Service" with organizations like Acorn and the AFL-CIO leading the charge.  It should remain the "National Day of Remembrance".  Remembering the innocents that died, unexpectedly, going about their normal day.  Talking to their spouses and parents, making plans for the evening, saying goodbye to their children for the last time as they headed to their daily lives.  Remembering those innocents left behind because of cowards.   And remembering my brave Brothers and Sisters in Arms that do what they do, every day, giving and not asking for much in return. 

God Bless You All.....

12 comments:

Martie said...

*tears* That was awesome Janie. Thank you...

Chief said...

God Bless You!

ciara said...

sad but great post, janie...thx for sharing this and for serving our country. thx to all of those who protect our freedom.

Southern Sage said...

WOW
perfectly said.

Andrew's Daddies said...

Great post Gunz!

CK Lunchbox said...

You're so right in saying it should be about remembering, something that we as a country many times manage to forget how to do.

I had just got of active duty 90 days before this, and when it happened, I pleaded with my wife to let me go back in... no dice. I feel like I did nothing. All I can do is praise those who have done the real work in serving this country.

The Cynic said...

Great post, Janie. I joined the Army Guard two weeks after 9/11 because I was so angry at the pricks that did this. I found myself in Iraq shortly after. Thank-yo your soon-to-be ex for his service and to all my brothers and sisters in arms. God Bless America.

Dave said...

I'm with you about remembrance vs. the "day of service" BS.

Gunfighter said...

Frankly, I avoided all of the 9/11 memorials and so forth. I don't want to have any remembrance days, service days, patriot days, or anything like that. I was in DC on 9/11... I remember losing contact with my wife, just across town... I remember having to restrain an armed colleauge
(I'm a police officer), who was trying to go to the Pentagon where his wife worked (she was fine), I remember the Pentagon in flames and watching the second plane hit the tower. I remember the news report that claimed a truck bomb had exploded outside of my wife's office building (turned out to be false). I remember my neighbors children, stunned at the news that their mother had been killed at the PEntagon.

I remember all of that. I don't need a national television show for it.

I wish the blessings of peace for all of the effected by 9/11.

jam said...

in god we trust. thank you

Something Happened Somewhere Turning said...

I totally agree with this. I read a post last night where a man went to visit his child in New York City and went to Ground Zero. Once there he was amazed to see how little has been done to memorialize the site. I too was astonished when my family visited there a few years ago and found a construction site with cement pillars dressed in black sharpies commemorating the site. Our lost loved ones and heroes deserve much better than this.
The same goes for the crash site of Flight 93; for years candles and flowers have dressed this spot like an accident on a highway. Although I now understand that the land has been obtained by the surrounding residents and a memorial will begin there once there is proper funding.
Thank for writing this, this was a fine post.

Aidan Donnelley Rowley said...

Haunting, honest post. "Five empty coffins." Too much. I was in NYC on that day and I will never forget that acidic pit of fear in my stomach, that creeping sadness for people I didn't know, that moment on which life was severed into Before and After. Thanks for encouraging all of us to remember.