Eleven Years Later, 9/11 Feels Like the First TimeSeptember 11, 2012
This September, many families said tearful goodbyes to sons and daughters who packed up their bags and went back to school.
My older sister also packed up a bag and said goodbye to my family. Only her destination wasn’t a dorm room — she was off to Afghanistan.
Her departure makes the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks a difficult day for my family as we think about our favorite Navy nurse standing in a war zone far from home.
Our country has already traveled the emotional roller coaster that my family is now riding. My intensely personal feelings echo the country’s mood immediately after the attacks — fear and uncertainty punctuated with unspoken doubt. The news from Afghanistan — have you been paying attention? — suggests that a major threat to our troops is the very group of soldiers whom our service members are training. Some Afghan military personnel are reportedly opening fire and killing unsuspecting American troops, which is casting a shadow of mistrust over coalition efforts. Because I work for AAUW, I’m well aware of another threat to my sister — her fellow soldiers. Our military has become one of its own worst enemies with military personnel inflicting sexual violence on their own.
But the news is not all bad. Just as our country came together after the attacks, so has my family. We stand as a united front as we share news and updates, tears and encouragement. We will be OK — just like my sister. Our hope remains strong.
Still, today will be a tough day, especially as my family looks outside our cocoon and feels our nation’s pain. We will remember the moms and dads, aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas who died in the towers, on the planes, or at the Pentagon. We’ll remember the first responders who risked their own health to pick up the very big pieces of this tragedy. And we will honor the women and men who serve our country. Because of the length of this war and the war in Iraq, many soldiers have deployed multiple times, a sacrifice that is almost unimaginable.
These are just the ripples that have touched the United States. Our allies have also sacrificed for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and more than 100,000 Iraqi and Afghan citizens have died since the wars began.
If our country stays on track to leave Afghanistan in two years, September 11, 2014, could be an anniversary about the past, not the present or future. By then we might begin healing our wounds instead of feeling them anew every day.