Monday, September 12, 2011

National day of remembrance

Like so many Americans, it is hard for me to believe it has been 10 years since the day that so changed all our lives.

Every U.S. generation has “that moment”—the one that forever defines for members of that generation where they were when “it” happened. For some, it is the beginning or end of a war, for others the day President Kennedy was shot. For younger generations, it seems there are several moments: The day President Reagan was shot and the two times we lost a space shuttle certainly qualify, but the biggest one was the attacks of 9-11.

Where were you on September 11, 2001? What is your story? How has your life changed?

For me, I was sitting in my favorite chair, nursing my now 10-year-old and enjoying a rare solo visit from my father. My mom was in North Carolina, awaiting the arrival of my sister’s third child. We were living in Las Vegas and had turned on the TV to check the weather for our planned outing to Mt. Charleston, for a day of hiking and a picnic. At first, as the weather report filled most of the screen, a list of airport closings and shutdowns scrolled across the bottom. It didn’t make sense. When we changed channels and saw pictures of what was happening in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania, the situation came into focus—at least as much as anything could come into focus that day. It took awhile for the shock and reality to sink in.

We called Mom and then pressed on with our plans to spend the day on Mt. Charleston. There was nothing we could do, and our need to escape and try to be as normal as possible was strong. But as we hiked, we were a little on edge, wondering if anything else was happening or what surprises awaited us when we returned to town and the constant media coverage.

Has life changed? Sure, especially when it comes to travel and security. As a military member, I have deployed in support of the global war on terror. My kids now live with the knowledge that our borders are not as safe and secure as we believed them to be when we were young. But our lives have also changed in positive ways. There seems to be more support of those who spend their days protecting America: policemen, firemen, soldiers, sailors and airmen. Ordinary citizens seem to better grasp the service-before-self concept that these people display every day they’re on duty. The stories of public servants entering the doomed twin towers, or the daily scenes played out at airports all over the country as military members deploy or return in support of the mission, remind Americans everywhere of those who serve.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. 

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