As an American you can't help but pause and think about where you were on this day 11 years ago. I was only 22 and I remember it all so vividly. How could I ever forget the day the word "war" came to life?
I had been battling a sinus infection all that week. I had called the day before and set up a doctor's appointment at Ft Campbell. Chaz and I had only been married for a few months and I was still getting accustomed to the military system. My sister called to ask if I had seen the news and I said no. She encouraged me to turn it on and I did. I remember saying, "Oh my gosh, what would cause a pilot to crash his plane?" I was thinking the pilot had some sort of medical issue and that had caused him to crash. I had to leave and go to my appointment so I told my sister I'd talk to her later. I really had no idea what had happened.
I drove to Ft Campbell and was stuck in traffic just outside of Gate 3. Since I lived in Nashville the years prior, traffic was nothing special to me. I was rocking out to my CD in my car when a man in BDUs came and knocked on my window. I rolled it down. He said, "Ma'am are you listening to a CD?" I said, "Yes sir," He said, "Well you'll want to turn on your radio. I regret to inform you ma'am we're at war and you will not be allow on post today." At that exact moment Little Birds (the little attack helicopters) popped up into the air. That was when the fear struck me. I'll never forget it.
The soldiers outside of the gate directed all non active duty personnel away from post. I cried. Chaz was on post. I could not reach him and I was not allowed access to him. (For very good reason, I will add.) Chaz was on the second roster to deploy in case of war. We knew this. Back in that day we didn't have wars, but the Army was always ready for them. The years were divided up into cycles. I don't remember the colors of the cycles, but I remember that if they made it through the first list, then Chaz's group was next. Another Army wife came to wait it all out with me. She was as scared as I was. We didn't eat, but we tried to distract ourselves from what was going on. We did not watch the news. We watched random movies and such instead.
Then Chaz came in, got his gear and told me he would be in touch as soon as possible. He had to come home to our apartment to pick up his TA-50 and then he was gone. Chaz also told the wife there with me that her hubby was at their home doing the same and that he was fine.
Fort Campbell was on full blackout for communications. That meant if it wasn't essential then you were not getting through. Cell phones did not even get a signal. Finally the next day we got a line into post to our husband's unit. IT was only to the staff duty desk and I did not bother calling it because I knew families from all around America were calling to check on their soldiers. Chaz told me later I was correct. Of course panic had spread throughout our community because our lack of preparedness perpetuated our fears and made everything even worse. Slowly Ft Campbell went to a new normal. For months following September 11th we had armed guards all over base. Chaz's group was assigned to protect the elementary school just inside Gate 4.
I'll never forget 9-11 because I learned so many things. I learned that fear is one of the worst emotions possible. I also learned that our country can unite in order to heal. I learned that I am so proud to be an American and we really do live in the best country in the world. Please take a moment to reflect on where you were that day and most importantly pause to remember the lives that were lost that day.