Sunday, September 11, 2011

Living in America...

Wow...been a while since I posted here. Wanted to get back into blogging about whatever hits me at the moment. Probably as good a day as any...Maybe even better.

Today is the 10th anniversary of 9/11. It's crazy to think how much my life, and the lives of everyone in the U.S. have changed. Ten years ago today, I was in my junior year of high school. Gas prices were cheap enough that my friends and I could cruise around town just to waste time. People of middle eastern decent were not feared anymore than people of other decents. Food was cheap. Jobs were plentiful. Life was good.

Then it happened. Osama bin Laden hatched a plan to bring the U.S. to it's knees. I remember going to class that morning like any normal day. Sitting in my chair, waiting for the bell to ring. Someone said a plane had flown into a building in New York City. Within minutes, a tv had been wheeled into the classroom and we were watching the news coverage of the most devestating event of our young lives to date. None of us understood at that time how much our lives would be forever changed.

When we found out it was a terrorist attack, and not just a horrible accident, I remember saying, "Who would be stupid enough to attack America?!" That's the mentality many of us had at that time. We were the greatest country in the world. Strongest in military, great economy. We weren't afraid to go shopping or to fly somewhere for vacation. We weren't leary of people from the middle east. I don't even think I'd ever heard of Afghanistan. We were America the strong. The brave. The powerful. And no one could ever do anything to damage that...Or so we thought.

I don't remember much about that day ten years ago. Mostly that everyone was in a panick or crying. I had band practice after school that night. My mom had called my cell and told me that I HAD to go put gas in my car as soon as I left school. At the time, it was thought that because of the attacks, the U.S. would no longer have access to oil. They would shut us down that day. I remember sitting in my car a block away from that gas station for a few hours, just waiting to get in. The whole country was in a panick. We were all in a crisis state of mind. My parents drove up, and told me to take their car to band practice and they would fill my tank for me.

My older brother was in his fourth day of basic training for the Air Force when the towers fell. No one knew what would happen, but many in my family were sure my brother would be deployed immediately. I remember going to band practice and talking to the boy I was in love with. Telling him that my family was worried for my brother. Ironically, that same boy is now an airman. Not a day goes by that I don't think about how scared I am that something will happen to him. The nature of his job is one I'm not allowed to know. I think that makes it worse.

My brother is still an airman. He's a reservist who hasn't yet been deployed. His day is coming quickly, I believe. Sometime this spring, he will deploy. I wonder how women survive the deployements of men in their lives. How will my mother, sisters and I cope with my brother's deployement? What about his wife and children?

I had never flown before 9/11. So, I can't tell you how much airlines have changed from the days before. These days, we take our shoes off before walking through the metal detector. I have been randomly pulled from line and patted down before walking through the machine. I remember going to Chicago a few years ago to visit a friend. The day we were to come back, there was a terrorist attack in London. We were told to arrive at the airport several hours early in order to get through security in time to make our flight. This is the world we live in now.

Gas prices are high enough that driving just to drive is no longer an option. Many people have traded in their massive suvs and super duty trucks for hybrid cars. If an unknown package or bag is left anywhere, the bomb squad is called in. The air force now does multiple fly-overs during football games. I remember for a long time seeing a chart on the news. Different colors meant different terror levels. Orange, red, ecetera. "Axis of evil" was a phrase used often in those early days. Videos of soldiers being be-headed by Al Qaeda were sent to news organizatons regularly. This is the world we live in now. A world of fear.

So, how do you live each day with the fear? Mostly, I just put it out of my mind. I occupy my time with school and work and facebook and texting. I think that's the only way any of us can ever really stay sane in it all. We focus on managing bills and cutting costs. We focus on hobbies or work. We focus on our families. The world is a scary place, but that doesn't mean that we must be afraid of everything all the time. We must remember to stop and see the blessings, no matter how small. My drive home from work is very late at night. Partly on back roads. I see deer nearly every drive home. It's a nice reminder that life goes on. I still laugh at "that's what she said" jokes. I still crank my stereo and sing and dance through my house like my brother and I did as kids. This is how life goes on.

Ten years later, life goes on.

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