Thursday, September 11, 2014

What 9.11 Took from our Children--One Mom's Reflection

I didn't know anyone. Not one single person who died on 9.11.01.

Todd Beamer was a friend of several people I know, but I had never met him. I don't think I even know anyone who lost a loved one on 9.11.

I've written about 9.11 before; I probably write about it every year. It is one day that really gets to me in a very personal way.

Today I keep wondering why I feel such strong emotions every year on this date. Why, if I didn't know a single person who lost their life, do I feel shaky when I watch the scenes from that day replayed on the news? Why do I remember almost every vivid detail from the hour or two after I got the phone call from my husband saying, "Turn on the news." Why do I remember ringing my best friend's doorbell and falling apart crying the minute I saw her?

Why is this such a big deal to me? Me, who wasn't even directly affected?

You know, I think that's the answer. I was directly affected. We all were. I am an American, and even though I didn't personally know anyone who died that day, I think a part of who we all are as Americans was taken from us. Our culture. Our identity. Part of that died that day, and as I wrote to my girls that evening, I knew that nothing would ever be the same again.

I also knew that the world my children would grow up in would not be the carefree, naive world I knew as a child.

My children will know carefree days, yes, but always with the backdrop of another 9.11 and the knowledge that this could happen again at any time.

They will never know meeting their family at the airline gate with hugs and kisses after a long trip. They will never know the freedom of entering a building, particularly a government building, without some sense of suspicion--x-ray machines and all that. They will never know a world in which we don't look at each other just a little more closely because of the way we look or the way we are dressed.

They will never know.

What they will know is heightened security, fear, and threats to our limited way of life. And this makes me sad.

It's the new normal, I get that. I'm not naive enough to think things could ever go back. But what I thought about today as I wondered why this day affects me so much is the reality of life as my children will see it.

They've been robbed of so much.

And it affects me deeply.

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