The night of September 10, 2001 I went to bed a very naive college freshmen. This season of my life was my first experience at freedom and I was living it up in Baton Rouge, LA. However, the morning of September 11, 2001 my whole outlook on the world and my surroundings changed.
I was woken up by my neighbors banging on the front door and yelling for us to wake up and turn on the TV. I initially was annoyed because I didn’t have to get up early for classes, but I stumbled in the living room and sat on the couch with my roommates and watched in awe. Now, I’m going to tell you, I had NO IDEA what the World Trade Center buildings were. None. But, as I watched in horror as that second plane flew into the building my naive life stopped.
I immediately picked up the phone and called my dad, who at the time had been in the Airforce for 20+ years. I was crying and demanding to know what this meant for him. I distinctly remember him telling me, “I’ve already gotten the call and we are on stand by.” What? Are you serious? You have to leave? For how long? Where? All of these thoughts ran through my head and I just didn’t know how to process it all.
He did in fact leave a few weeks later and did 2 tours in Iraq and eventually retired after his second tour. I was so proud of him and and still am. Those months he was gone I was away at school and my mom was holding down the fort with my little sister. It was hard for her and hard for me because I felt awful being away from them. I remember watching the news one night and seeing that the area my dad was in had been attacked. We waited anxiously for his call that he was alright. It made me look at our military in a different light. Made me cry whenever I heard our National Anthem (which I still do every time hear it). Made me respect our flag more. I started to truly realize that this obviously was not the first time our country had gone to war to protect what was ours, and it probably wouldn’t be the last. Men and women had fought for our freedom for hundreds of years and this moment in life would eventually be history.
Fast forward a few months and this wonderful man I had known for years (he’s my husband now), actually called me and asked me what I thought about him joining the military. I expressed my concerns considering where our country was at the moment, but he explained to me that all those reasons, all those concerns was why he wanted to joined. And he had already — he just wanted to get my opinion on it all.
Soon after we began dating and I was a soldier’s girlfriend, writing letters to him in basic training and letting him know how proud I was of him. Six months after he graduated from Basic Training he was deployed overseas. We spent 352 days apart. But I could not be more proud of him. He has stories — lots of them. I am just now hearing about them, even after all these years. He’s a Drill Sgt now int he ARMY Reserves and he trains all the men and women that go through Boot Camp. He’s had to leave us throughout our marriage season, but I am OK with that. He is doing what our country has called him to do and I will stand by that man until the end.
My grandparents were veterans, my brothers-in-law are veterans and we bleed red, white and blue in this family. I woke up (figuratively) that morning in 2001; my eyes opened up to a world that is scary and realized that there are people out there that want to take us (Americans) down at every chance that they can get.
Yet, there are, and were, men and women who protect us on a daily basis. Veterans Day is a day to honor those brave men and women who are with us now, a day to remember those who are no longer with us, and a day to pay respect to the brave souls who gave their lives up for us. For our freedom.