American flag

Getting my son out of bed this morning was a snap. I leaned over, kissed him on his forehead and whispered, “Osama Bin Laden is dead.” Cole’s wide eyes popped open, he blinked a few times, trying to process what I was saying. “Really?” he asked. Yes, son. Really.

I will never forget that day. Sept 11th 2001 was shaping up to be a difficult one for me. Boxes were still everywhere from the move into our dream home. Not that I could see them anyway, what with the raging case of pink eye I had in BOTH eyes, courtesy of my young children. Since pink eye is damn unsightly on top of being horribly contagious, I figured I’d stay off the air that day, much to the delight of my co-workers. As I pulled up the car to drop the kids off at school, the principal ran out, his hair a disheveled mess, jacket whipping in the wind behind him. He said something then that a decade later I still remember, word for word. “Our nation is under attack!”

“Our nation is under attack.” I couldn’t even get my head around those words. I was a child of a peaceful time, even though both parents served in the Air Force. War was something I only read about and it took place in far off lands, where people who signed up to fight and knew the dangers, were at risk. This was different. The battlefield was the home front, unarmed people, just going to work, doing their jobs, minding their business, were targets. It meant that we were all at risk. I went home and for the next seven hours watched as the truly unbelievable became a reality, the tears from my broken heart stinging my already irritated eyes. Before that day, we could not fathom such evil existed; after that day nothing would ever be the same.

We left Texas for New York shortly after that and moved about 40 minutes outside of Manhattan. Whether it was the moment of silence observed once a year or listening to classmates talk of parents or friends who worked near the towers that day, 9/11 was no longer abstract for Casey and Cole; it was real. And it was bad. They had questions I couldn’t answer, namely, how could people who don’t know us, hate us so much they would be willing to die for their cause, taking innocents with them? For my babies, who looked to me like I knew everything, I had nothing.

Fast forward to this morning. The reason Cole jumped out of bed is simple; it was a victory for what is right. See, he doesn’t remember a world before asymmetrical warfare, TSA pat-downs, reinforced cockpit doors and the face of the global war on terror that was Osama Bin Laden. The world, as my kids know it and yours too, is one of hyper vigilance and an understanding that freedom carries with it an incredibly high price.

So today, I will emphasize to Casey and Cole that while it may not have happened as quickly as we had hoped, the face of evil was extinguished last night; an injustice, corrected thanks to the work of the men and women charged with protecting the freedom we hold so dear. We will never, ever forget those who died trying to capture Osama Bin Laden and those who died on the day that started it all.

Where were you and what were you doing when you first heard the news of 9/11? What was your reaction? How did you explain that day to your kids and what will you tell them now? (BTW, I’m going to say this once. This is not a political discussion! This is about remembrance. Please be respectful of one another and let’s keep it to issues of remembrance. Thanks.)