“You are going to war.” I was 24. He was 26. I said it to my husband as a matter-of-fact. I didn’t know in that moment with whom or where. I just knew that when the news told us the Pentagon had been hit, the scope of his job as an Infantryman shifted into a new and unfamiliar gear.
Our whole country felt as if it was up in flames.
When this day comes every year, those words – the way they slipped from my mouth and fell into the air, as if I had somehow verbally signed his orders – rattle and clang through my thoughts. They collide with the memories of the coverage of all the soot-covered first responders at ground zero, the bodies falling from buildings, the literal hell on earth, and always I am stuck in the awe of how any at all arose from all the rubble.
I usually check myself into the category of “others”: those blessedly fortunate enough to be effected only by the glancing blow of the shock that America was hit hard by terrorism.
I am unbelievably fortunate. I carry zero real-time images of ground zero, of loss, or of war. But I am not “other”. On September 11, 2001, the “crystal ball” into the future of my family cracked wide open. It became as unpredictable and intemperate as an earthquake. And in the years (and years, and years…) to come, the aftershocks were relentless.
Our country proved its resiliency. New steel. New concrete. New hope. A refusal to break against evil. While we still collectively and earnestly bow our heads in respect on this Anniversary, we also silently raise our hearts in the spirit of “We survived”.
As you walk through these hours, I ask you to also remember that for some, that struggle to rebuild was a considerably steeper process. It was at times as smoldering and twisted as the fallen towers all those years ago. Recovery from battle – at ground zero or overseas – is brutal. It wreaks of burned skin. It stings with acrid smoke. It shakes with blasts and screams literally.
– Megan Fox Morseth