I was 7 1/2 months pregnant with Grace and was at work at Wallace, Morris and Barwick in Kinston, NC. Dave was deployed and was in Kosovo at the time. I had gotten to work and was sitting at my desk, turning on my computer and about to get my day started when my good friend and co-worker, Sonya, walked by and said a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. All the paralegals in our little group of offices immediately got up and went to the lounge where we had a tiny TV and there were already a few attorneys sitting around watching the news coverage. We sat there all day...glued to the TV...not able to believe what was unfolding before our eyes. One of my first reactions was of course Dave and the fact that he was deployed and was supposed to be home in time for the birth of our daughter. I thought with this happening and the fact that America had just been attacked, there was no way that he would be coming home from deployment.
Throughout the day, I talked to family and loved ones and friends who lived on the military base where we lived. Security was immediately heightened and I was warned to be prepared for a very long wait to get back on base because of the security and ID checks. I'm trying to remember if I heard from Dave that day and I'm almost positive I did not. In fact, I believe they shut down all communication where he was and it was several days before I heard from him. But amazingly enough he was only delayed coming home by about 10 days and did get home in time for the movers to come and pack us up, move to FL and welcome the birth of our daughter, Grace.
September 11, 2001 changed the lives of so many. Even though we did not lose a loved one or a friend and actually knew no one that was directly involved in any of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon or on the flight that went down in PA, our lives were also changed. As of September 2001, Dave had been in the military for almost 9 years and we had already decided that he was going to get out. He's a pilot and thought that he might fly for the airlines upon getting out of the military. Because of what happened on that fateful day back in 2001 and the events that followed, Dave decided to stay in the military and here we are 10 years later. We've gone through several more deployments and nights apart, missed holidays and birthdays and are on our last tour as he will retire from the United States Marine Corps in May 2013.
But as I write this today and am saddened by the tragedy of the events and all the lives lost on September 11, 2001, there have been many more lives lost since that fateful day. According to Faces of the Fallen in The Washington Post, 6,026 US Service Members have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (as of June 5, 2011). These are husbands, sons, fathers, brothers, friends, wives, mothers, daughters and sisters but rarely do the deaths of these service members get the media attention that they deserve. So, on this day I will pray and remember those that died on September 11, 2001 but I will also pray for all the families who have lost loved ones who were serving our Country since that terrible day in 2011 and I ask you to do the same.
And for all my military friends and spouses, I leave you with this.
Letter to a military spouse
While I have never had the pleasure of meeting you or your husband, I felt the need to write you and express a very deep feeling that I have in my heart.
I, as a person, am not brave. I do not tackle things head on, as I hate confrontation. I will travel 100 miles out of my way just to avoid a conflict. I am an American woman that has no idea what is going on in the military other than what I hear on the news.
I have never had to let go of someone so that they could go fight for people that they didn't know, people that sometimes do not appreciate or understand what they are fighting for.
I have never had a sleepless night of worry because of a report that another bomb has exploded and I still haven't heard from my husband.
I have never had to wait for months on end to hold the one that I loved so.
I have never had to tell my children that daddy wasn't coming home tonight because he was so far away fighting for something that they aren't yet old enough to understand.
I have never had to hold my head high and suppress the tears as I hear that it will be at least another six months of separation before my loved one gets to come home.
I have never had to deal with a holiday away from the one that I thought I would share every day of my life with.
And I have never had to feel the panic rising in my heart at the sound of a ringing phone or knock at the door for fear that it is the news that everyone is terrified of getting.
For the reasons listed above, I can not tell you that I understand how you feel. I can not tell you that you must be strong. I can not say that you shouldn't be angry, because you "knew what you were getting into when you married a military man". I can not say these things because I have never had to walk in your shoes.
What I can say for certain is that because of your unselfish acts of bravery and your husbands willingness to stand up for those who see him as "just another soldier" - - I will never have to walk in your shoes.
I do understand that as a military wife you are expected to uphold a certain amount of control, but I never understood how you could do it, until now. I have figured out that you are not like other women. You are of a special breed. You have a strength within you that holds life together in the darkest of hours, a strength of which I will never possess. The faith you have is what makes you stand out in a crowd; it makes you glow with emotion and swell with pride at the mention of The United States of America.
You are a special lady, a wonderful partner and a glorious American.
I have more respect for your husband than I could ever tell you, but until recently I never thought much about those that the soldier leaves at home during deployment.
Until this moment I could never put into words exactly what America meant to me.
Until this moment, I had no real reason to.... Until I heard of you.
Your husband and his military family hold this nation close, safe from those who wish to hurt us...but you and those like you are the backbone of the American family. You keep the wheels in motion and the hearts alive while most would just break completely down. Military families make this nation what it is today.
You give us all hope and you emit a warming light at the end of a long dark tunnel.
Because of you and your family...I am able to be me. I am able to have my family. I am able to walk free in this great land. Because of you and your family, I can look ahead to the future with the knowledge that life is going to be okay. Because of you and your family, I can awake to a new day, everyday.
I realize that you are a stronger person than I will ever be because of these things and I just wanted to take the time today to say thank you to you and your family for allowing me that freedom.
I will never be able to repay this debt to you, as it is unmatchable. However, I hope that you know that no matter where you are...what you are doing...what has happened today...or what will happen tomorrow...Your husband will NEVER be "just another soldier" to me.... And you, dear sweet lady, will never be forgotten.
You are all in my prayer's everyday and I pray that God will bring you back together with your loved one safely.
May God Bless You!