Daily Reads

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I imagine that 9/11 will be one of those days when pretty much everyone in this country can remember where they were and what they were doing.

For me, it was taking the first day of the MOAB (management of agressive behaviour) training which my hospital offers.

At our first break, we were out in one of the patient waiting areas and caught site of the TV turned to one of the news channels.

We watched the replay of the planes going into the towers over and over.  We watched the towers fall, over and over.  The instructor said that they had been trying to convince the airlines to hire them to teach their techniques, which included how to disarm someone coming at you with a knife, for several years, but of course this was back when everyone assumed that a hi-jacker just wanted to go someplace and land.  I believe that most of the airlines teach their employees this or similar programs now.

Today, this morning, looks just like it did that morning, beautiful skies, clear and cool.  I had a daughter in school that day, and we live in a navy town.  We're also only about two hours from NYC.  Almost everyone knew someone in NYC that day.  I know that one of our staff was waiting to here from their fiance who was working in the Towers.  I never did hear whether they were one of the survivors or the lost.

My husband's submarine was on a med run with a month and a half left; they were supposed to be home before Halloween.  Within a day we had been informed that they would be home on time (yeah, right) but all port calls had been cancelled. Within a few weeks, on another Tuesday, we got a call from squadron for a mandatory spouses meeting the next night.  The first thing we were told was that they no longer knew when the boat was coming home, but it wasn't likely to be the original date.  I pissed off more than a few wives at that point, since I was unable to restrain a "Surprise, surprise" in my best Gomer Pyle imitation, though the CO's wife was snickering.

Squadron was telling us as soon as they heard, because they knew a lot of families had plans for the weekend after homecoming.  Like the poor sailor whose wedding was scheduled for that Saturday.  The navy wanted us to have as much time as possible to change plans and schedules, but since they didn't know when they'd be back, it was up to us to decide what to do.

And then they threw the floor open for questions.  Woman after woman repeated almost the same thing: "We have a trip planned, and the plane tickets bought.  What should we do?"  And time after time poor Master Chief repeated, that they didn't know, each family would have to decide for themselves, whether to take the trip without the husband/brother/son, or reschedule, or what.  After the third or fourth version, I leaned over to the woman next to me and whispered "What part of "we don't know" do these women not understand?"  She laughed rather ruefully.

Over the next few weeks I got to listen to a lot of freakouts from wives and mothers that their husbands and sons were being called to duty, or sent out on patrol early.  I just kept reminding them that the men were safer underwater in the Persian Gulf than they were driving to and from the base in Peace Time.  I'm not sure if anyone of them actually believed me, but I do know that the only loss of a crew member suffered by any of my husband's commands in his 21+ years in the Navy was a few weeks after they got home from that deployment, when someone ran his car into a tree at midnight on the way home from bowling.  He left behind a wife and a three month old baby.

I got to spend my elder daughter's 6th birthday with one of her friend's parents in the next room watching CNN as we shot at Afghanistan.  CNN had to tell everyone the name of the boat (my husband's) although he wasn't allowed to tell me for over a year after they came home.  The Navy finally realized that the horse well and truly gone, so keeping that barn door locked was kind of pointless.  My husband always refers to that day as shooting fireworks for Katy's birthday.

And the world has never seemed quite as safe for us as Americans since then.  I suspect it never really was "safe" as such, but we never had to think about it, if only because it always happened someplace else before then.

I have realized that I missed one anniversary this year I try to never forget.  Beslan.  Islam has hit us here at home once, don't ever think they won't try, and try something like that if we ever let them.

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