It’s hard to believe it has been 20 years.
That’s the thought which came to mind this past weekend as chatter began about the upcoming anniversary of 9/11 and what might lie ahead for us as a country.
As we gathered with some friends and family for a barbecue, there was much talk of current events and what this all might mean for us as Americans. Several of us shared feelings of how something “bigger” might be on the horizon noting the lessons of 20 years ago and the lesson of expecting the unexpected.
Shortly thereafter this conversation got going the text message of 911 interruption throughout Stanislaus County came through. An eerie coincidence to say the least, definitely an unexpected notification which caused a few of us to pause.
Another unexpected came by way of my personal feelings. Like most, I quietly (mentally) traveled back to life 20 years ago and the changes which ensued. What struck me most was the silence I found myself taking as I heard friends state, “we’re going to war. That’s where this is all headed.”
Citing sources, articles and video to support the exclamation, I found myself simply smiling and remaining quiet.
Twenty years ago I was a military wife. Hearing the words “we’re going to war,” from a civilian strikes a person funny when you’ve lived a life of sacrifice for your country.
As I type this, I now have girlfriends whose children are serving this great country. Mothers who now wonder what this social unrest will mean for their children, their families, their future. It’s a valid fear and one I recall quite vividly.
So when I hear someone say “we’re going to war,” as a former military wife my head says, you? Yeah, not really. Majority of the people whom are directly affected by such big decisions don’t tend to talk about it in mixed company, this I know for sure.
Now granted we are living in a much different time than 20 years ago, by way of immediacy in broadcast and information updates. As has been said time and time again … everything is instant.
Twenty years ago, when the Twin Towers fell my husband (at the time) stood in line waiting for his turn to use the pay phone at his base in Japan. A simple three-minute call to say, “I’m okay. I’ll be in touch when I can. I love you” and “I need to get off the phone for the next guy.”
Often times that’s the military life. A brief call, an update and then you wait.
Twenty years ago, we still had dial up for internet service, there was no social media, cell phones overseas was laboring and e-mails came slowly. Remember I got the call via a pay phone.
Not to be misunderstood, I love the patriotism so many feel for our country and those who serve. The homes aligned with American flags post 9/11 was an overwhelming feeling for those of us who had family serving. The sudden support and unity which happened literally overnight, was a time in my life I will never forget.
As a young military couple the life we lived was much different than our friends. We knew this would be a 20-year tour of service for my kids’ father; we were committed to the sacrifice that entailed - as hard as it was.
So now, looking to the anniversary, reconnecting to some feelings which are pretty strong my wish is this - be supportive and remain grateful. Recognize there is no “we” by way of what the military family is giving up versus the civilian and that’s okay. Those wearing the military uniform do it for a number of reasons; namely their love and commitment to this country.
I’m grateful to be able to call this a piece of my personal history, as horrible as that time might have been I learned a lot.
Mostly, I learned that not everything you hear in the media is accurate, especially during a time of war. There are plans happening (often) that we know nothing about and at the end of the day to put our faith and support in the ones who have been trained to do their job.
To the active families, as well as the veterans who read these words - thank you. As the saying so poignantly goes, “Land of the free because of the brave.”
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 209-847-3021.