10 Years After 9/11: Where Were You?

Written By: Kim - Sep• 08•11

Ten years ago I was working in an office building six miles from the Pentagon. The company’s founder had a TV in his office. Once we heard the news about a plane flying in to the World Trade Center, we were all glued to CNN. At first we thought it was a horrible mistake. A tragic error on the part of the crew or a malfunction of the equipment. When the second plane crashed in to the tower, we knew the truth: This was no accident.

A few minutes later, we heard a plane fly extremely low. We all nervously chuckled because we thought we were over reacting to the news from New York City. The plane made a second pass down Columbia Pike, where our office was located and we knew that was not a normal flight pattern. Then, seconds later, Flight 77 crashed in to the Pentagon.

The force of the impact was so great that it shook the windows in our building. We closed the office and headed home because we then knew that America was under attack.

Like most Americans my age, I have grown up in a relatively peaceful time in America. Vietnam was over by the time I entered kindergarten. Unlike so many other countries and their citizens, I had never been through anything like this. Wars were in other countries. We had learned our lesson at Pearl Harbor but the new bad guys had tossed out the handbook.

The trek home in my car, with tens of thousands of other Washingtonians, was the longest drive of my life. Cell phone service was overloaded but we had Nextel and were able to communicate via the radio. My husband had just opened his business that March and was driving back from a job site. He was able to first reach our children at day care. My children were four and one.

Soon after I got on to Route 66, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all commercial and private planes. Airplane noise, which we normally tune out, was no where. The skies were eerily silent. Believe it or not, everyone was driving pretty calmly considering our normal state of Washington, DC rush and road rage.

We stayed glued to the TV the rest of the day and night. Because our children were so young, we were able to shield them from the tragedy, enough so that they really did not find out about 9/11 until the subject became part of a history discussion in school years later.

September 10, 2001, was the first time in my life I went to bed afraid. I prayed that God would protect us all; that survivors would be found; that first responders would keep the faith; that those who lost loved ones would not grieve forever. I admit that I also prayed that our military, CIA and other acronym-based agencies would find the bastards who did this. Yes, I prayed for revenge. The events were too fresh and I wasn’t spiritually ready to pray for forgiveness. Someone had declared war on the USA and I wanted John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, Harrison Ford and Sean Connery to fix it all.

Where were you when 9/11 happened? How did you find out? How has it changed you?

If You Are Free, Thank Someone

Written By: Kim - May• 29•11

As the USA celebrates Memorial Day this weekend, it’s more than a three-day weekend. It’s a time to reflect upon how our hard-fought freedoms are won. And, give glory to those who won it for us.

It’s become a trite saying over the years: If you are free, thank someone in a uniform. But when was the last time you thanked someone for serving their country? As an Army brat, I sometimes don’t feel it necessary to often thank another service member since my family lived it. We lived it for 26 years, several hardship tours and two tours in Vietnam. But, that said, it doesn’t mean that I should never say thank you. This is my public thank you to those who currently serve and those who have served.

© Robert Linder, courtesy of stock.xchng

Anyone connected to the military knows what kind of sacrifices Armed Service personnel make. From the most public: battle scars, possible life-long mental and physical disabilities or death. Many sacrifices are more private: less pay, long family separations, higher divorce rates, assignments in desolate locations, and letting politicians decide your fate. Citizens enlist in the military for a variety of reasons and reenlist for the same reasons: They are called to this vocation. There simply can not be any other reason because no one really wants to make these sacrifices. But, when you are called to a profession, you cannot ignore it.

There is something special about a uniform. It denotes a belonging. It identifies the person wearing it with a group. It’s one of the most powerful brands any marketer could ever hope to create. It sends a sense of fear and hope, depending upon the situation it is worn in. It provides a sense of pride.

So, for all of the opinions out there, remember that you are allowed to have your opinion because the U.S. Constitution guarantees it. And, never forget that someone in the military has upheld it for you since 1776.

So reach out the next time you see a military uniform. Say thank you to the woman or man inside it. You won’t regret it.