Never Take Tomorrow For Granted

Never forget...

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I sat there thinking. I wanted to start this off by saying, “It was a day that would forever change the world.” But that was too cliché, too used and, at least to me, a little bit unimpressive. It has been used so many times before and frankly it was just downright boring. I could do much better.

So I searched the depths of my mind until I came up with something else. “The day started off like any other ordinary day.” But that too was falling into the same realms of disappointment. The truth was, the day didn’t start off like any other day. It was far from an ordinary day, at least for me.

So as I paced back and forth, trying to think of the perfect opener, it suddenly hit me.

It was September 11th, 2001, and I was a soldier in the United States Army.

This was a day that impacted everybody in the United States; a day that would be engrained into so many people’s hearts and minds. It was the day we were attacked. The day we lost so much. The day we regret not telling our loved ones “I love you” one more time, and the day we wished we would have held them just a little tighter. It was the day we wished we would have made time to grab a cup of coffee with an old friend. It was a day of regrets, but ones that would eventually make us stronger.

If you are an American, and even if you are not, I am sure you are familiar with the impact this day has had on history and our ongoing lives. We lost many brave men, women and children, not only to the terrorist attacks, but afterwards in the fight against terror. It was the day the al-Qaeda had planned a series of four coordinated suicide attacks against their targets. As Americans, we realized we needed to stand together. Not only to mourn, but to become stronger. Ten years later, we still mourn this day, but we remember what it stands for. America is strong and we are not to be messed with. We will take action and we will defend ourselves. Yet, as we remember this tragedy, we all have a personal story that goes along with it.

Sept. 10, 2001

I was a couple months pregnant and I was exhausted from the hectic weekend. My sister had just gotten married a couple days earlier and I was the maid of honor in her wedding. It was a great celebration, but it made me sad. Not because me sister was getting married, but because my husband was sitting at home instead of celebrating with us. I was able to get a weekend pass so I could attend the wedding, but my husband was not able to do the same. He had to stay home and work.

At the reception, as everybody had a few drinks, danced and got a little crazy, I moped around. I even escaped outside for awhile to make a quick phone call home. Thank goodness cell phones were already affordable for the regular public and we were a tech savy enough couple to jump on the band wagon and get one for each of us right away.

Yet, on this night, not only was I missing my husband, but I wasn’t feeling too good either. This whole pregnancy thing was not agreeing with me at all. The second I knew I was pregnant, I could not stop throwing up. It was weird how it seems to happen that way. One day your fine and then boom, the next day you can’t keep your food down. For me, it wasn’t morning sickness, it was all day sickness. Not to mention, I couldn't help but be depressed at how horribly fat I looked in my bridesmaid dress. I didn’t look pregnant, I looked plump. If you didn’t know I was pregnant, you probably just figured I had a love affair with food.

The Grand March was ultimately what did me in. As the whole bridal party ran in one large circle to some song played by the band, I started to get dizzy and naseous. I held it in for the entire duration of the Grand March, but as soon as we were released, I ran to the bathroom and got rid of the banquet style meal we were served earlier that evening. Naturally, several people were unaware of my condition, therefore rumor spread that I was highly intoxicated. In reality, I was ready to go home and sleep.

As Monday rolled around, the excitement of the wedding was dwindling down and I was packed up and ready to head back to Colorado Springs. My husband and I were both stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado and I had to get back to the daily grind. The party was over but I had a long day of traveling left to do.

My family lives in a smaller area outside of Green Bay, Wisconsin. However, plane tickets to Green Bay come with a hefty price, so we usually flew in and out of Milwaukee to save some cash. Luckily for me, my parents were willing to take the almost 3 hour drive down to the airport.

As normal, I was procrastinating getting myself packed, and as my last suitcase got thrown into the trunk of the car, we were already running late. Almost to the point of making it a possibility of missing my flight. So, we took off in a hurry to head down the road. Almost 15 minutes into the drive, I realized I had forgotten something.

After 21 years without a cellphone, suddenly I felt lost once I left it behind. But I needed it just in case there was an emergency. If only I knew how true that statement was at the time.
After 21 years without a cellphone, suddenly I felt lost once I left it behind. But I needed it just in case there was an emergency. If only I knew how true that statement was at the time. | Source

“Dad, I forgot my cellphone.”

“Okay,” he said. “Do you really need it?”

It wasn’t as if I hadn’t made it through the last 21 years without a cell phone, but suddenly I felt completely lost without it.

“Yes,” I said with an exasperated sigh. “What if there is an emergency?”

“We really don’t have time to turn around. You don’t want to miss your flight, do you?”

But Dad…” I whined a little. Ok, maybe it was a lot. It was 10 years ago so my memory of effective whining skills is starting to dwindle some.

“We can always mail it to you and you will have it when you get home.”

“I can’t wait that long!” Finally, after about 5 minutes, I convinced my Dad to turn around so I could quickly retrieve my cell phone. Afterwards, I could have swore he was punishing me for my stupidity. While my Dad doesn’t typically speed, (he learned his lesson from when he was younger), it seemed like he was purposely going as slow as possible. I think I even told him he was driving like a grandpa.

As we drove, I kept checking the time. We hit construction and got stuck in traffic, and as the time dwindled down, I started to regret going back for my cell phone. I was never going to make my flight at this rate, and that would result in me having to sit in the airport for several hours hoping they had something else available for me. That would not work for me. I was already getting home really late, and with being pregnant, I really didn’t need to be cutting even more into my sleep, nor did I want to worry about making different arrangements for getting picked up. I was already exhausted.

I made it to the airport just in time. I barely got checked in and to my gate before the plane was loading. But I made it, cell phone in hand and everything.

By the time I got home it was late and I was way past the point of exhaustion. Fortunately for me, I already planned for this and had taken the next day off to recover from all the traveling. My husband, however, still needed to report to work bright and early.

While half asleep, my first memories of the terrorist attacks seemed like only a dream. The events that followed are something that would be remembered for years to come.
While half asleep, my first memories of the terrorist attacks seemed like only a dream. The events that followed are something that would be remembered for years to come. | Source

Tuesday morning...

It was roughly 5:30 a.m. and my husband was getting ready for his early morning PT session. (For those of you without a military background, PT stands for physical training. As a soldier, we exercised every morning before heading into work.) Naturally, he wasn’t very quiet, and since I am a light sleeper, he woke me up. Before he left, he gave me a quick kiss good-bye and said he would see me in a couple hours when he returned to get ready for work.

Now I am not going to lie, but I was slightly irritated. I had the chance to sleep in and my eyes were wide awake. So, I flipped on the TV, I surfed a few channels before I stopped it on some show I would definitely not be interested in. I figured it would bore me back into sleep. It worked, and before I knew it, I was back dozing again.

At about 7 o’clock I woke back up to the TV blaring.

“Wow, this is a pretty dramatic movie!” I said to myself as my eyes closed again and I fell back asleep. There were buildings on fire and smoke everywhere. I didn’t have the energy to look at what I was watching, nor did I turn it off.

Shortly after was when the phone started ringing off the hook. I ignored it the first time. I ignored it the second time. By the third time, I was getting irritated. I have always thought it rude to call anybody before 9 a.m., and knowing it was well before that, made me cranky.

So I sat up in bed, saw the same movie was still playing through my sleepy half shut eyes, grabbed the phone and rudely answered with a gruff “Hello!”

“What is going on?” my mom said on the other end of the line.

“What are you talking about?”

By this time I had wiped the sleep out of my eyes and actually looked at the TV set. My mouth dropped open. I was speechless. The first plane had hit at 8:52 a.m. (6:52 a.m. Mountain Time) and the second had hit at 9:03 a.m. (7:03 a.m. Mountain Time).

“I don’t know Mom. I will call you back.”

I hung up the phone and tried calling my husband. He was sure to know more than I did. He picked up on the first ring and told me he was on his way home. I sat and waited. I might have even thrown up a little after watching the TV.

Sometimes you have to love strong.
Sometimes you have to love strong. | Source

Good-bye

My husband came home shortly after. I don’t believe it was much more than 15 minutes after I had talked to him, but it seemed like it took forever. I heard the door click shut and he came downstairs.

He started grabbing his gear and throwing it in his Army duffle bag.

“What’s going on?”

“I really don’t know,” he said. “But we were sent home to grab all of our gear and return as fast as possible.”

I was full of questions. Where are you going? How long will you be gone for? What is happening? …

“I don’t know” was his only reply, as he quickly changed and finished packing his gear. I quietly watched, wondering when I was going to hear from or see my husband again. It was top secret. No one had a clue where they were heading … they were just doing there duty and waiting for their orders.

As he finished he grabbed his stuff and slung it over his shoulder. He came up to me and gave me a quick kiss, looked at me longingly, put his hand on my belly and told me he loved me. Then he kissed me again, this time with a little more passion, as if it might be the last time he ever got to see me. With that, he walked out of the front door.

I watched him go. I didn’t want him to see me cry. I wanted to be strong. After all, I too was a soldier. But as soon as I heard the car leave the driveway, I no longer held back. Deep down, I knew this was bad. My husband was in a unit that was pure combat. Chances were good, he was going somewhere. Chances were good, it could be dangerous.

The 10th Anniversary

My husband and I were lucky ones. Both of us are still here. Yet, there were so many of our friends who were sent overseas to fight the battle and they never returned. As a photojournalist in the Army, I wrote too many stories of the soldiers who died; wrote too many stories on the families left behind. Each one was heartbreaking. And as I attended each one of their funerals, I knew I would cry as Taps was being played. It wasn’t because I necessarily knew them or their families. It was because as a whole, the War on Terror is destined to have many, many innocent victims.

They aren’t certain of the number of deaths, but it is said that on Sept. 11, 2001, about 3,000 people lost their lives. This included civilians, firefighters, police officers, a few foreigners, possible tourists, maybe a few homeless. The attack was not prejudice. It took anyone who got in its path.

Afterwards, the War on Terror was declared. Since then thousands of soldiers have been sent to fight this battle, coming back wounded or coming back in a body bag. It is estimated that more than 100,000 soldiers have died. That has far surpassed the number of those killed on 9-11.

These people are sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, friends… these people are real people. Yet, their memory is only held alive by those who truly knew them and hold them in their heart. They fought proudly for our country, and they gave everything. Their families, too, made sacrifices.

As we hit the 10 year anniversary of this horrific act, take a moment of silence to think of all your fellow brothers and sisters out there… Your American family. Remember their sacrifices and don’t hesitate to thank them, no matter how big or how little of a part they had in this War on Terror. Together we are stronger. Together we will come back.

Don’t forget about your family and your friends. Take this opportunity to tell them how important they are to you and how much you love them. Treasure those moments and hold on to them tight. Remember to never take for granted tomorrow.

More by this Author


Comments 42 comments

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

Very poignant. Very sad, very true. I am happy that you and your husband were among the lucky, but it tears me apart thinking that this could happen here, and makes me madder than hell that the Powers That Be had intelligence beforehand, and could have stopped this, and yet allowed it to happen!

My plans for the day include staying away from any of the memorial TV shows, or live services--I have never forgotten, and only gotten madder and madder over the years...I don't need a 10-year marker to "remind" me of this horror.

My heart goes out to all who were directly affected. Luckily, we were not--no one we knew or were related to was anywhere near those incidents. That does not mean I can't feel their pain--I can. Being overly sensitive and empathetic is a trait of mine that sometimes gets in the way of my own functioning...so, I cannot watch and be reminded, because the pain is already still with me on behalf of everyone who lost someone..I can write no more--it would turn into an angry rant.

Kudos to you for your courage, and for braving the memories to write such a moving article.


Daniel Fonda profile image

Daniel Fonda 5 years ago from Slovenia

Love it. Made me think about my loved ones and for how long will I be able to tell them I love them. I truly do hope your article reaches a broader audience. Voted up and followed!


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 5 years ago from Rural Arizona

Just plain outstanding, what a great story. I can feel the pain of you remembering this day so vividly, as most of us do, and am glad you are both still here. Let's hope we never have to experience a day this tragic again.

Great hub.


Soldieringon profile image

Soldieringon 5 years ago from Hemet, CA

Beautiful hub. I enjoyed it immensely.


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@DzyMsLizzy - Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I agree, all the memorial services and the newscasts are another devestating reminder of what has happened. It to makes my angry and mad because of what we have gone through. As we were watching opening ceremonies for football this morning they did a tribute to 9-11 and I found the tears starting to creep into my eyes. It was a tragic day.


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Daniel - Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. Hold your loved ones close and don't forget to treasure each moment. It is sad it takes something so devastating to realize how precious life really is! Thanks for the follow! :)


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Old Poolman - This was a hard article to actually write. When I started it wasn't so bad but when you start jogging those memories, a lot of the emotions start coming back. I am glad you could feel that in the article. I am glad that it has made me realize how much we take everything for granted. Have a great day!


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Soldieringon - Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to checking out the one that you wrote! :)


mythicalstorm273 profile image

mythicalstorm273 5 years ago

This almost made me cry :-( Although I was only 13 ten years ago I remember being in a pure panic knowing that you and Eli were in the military. All of my friends were serious for most of the day but people in our classes still did not realize how serious the attack was. After all kids don't pay attention to that type of stuff. But all day I was in tears thinking about you and Eli. Very few people understood what it might have meant to have family in the military. I thank you and Eli and all of the brave people who have served for this country every day!! Oh and by the way... I love you!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

Yes, as we watched the opening of the San Francisco 49ers game, the Air Force did a flyover at the end of the National Anthem...and I thought, "shouldn't they have flown the 'missing man' formation???"


moviedude31 profile image

moviedude31 5 years ago from Riverside, Ca

One word...AWESOME! I remember that like it was yesterday. Great to hear it from your point of view. I never knew you cried. So glad that we were both safe, and that we were able to grow our family. Love ya.


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Myth - I can only imagine how hard this could be on a 13 year old who knew someone that was in and possibly in harms way. I am glad you were thinking of us! And we love you too! :)


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@DzyMsLizzy - we watched the Steelers and Baltimore. They had the flyover, but only heard not seen. Or maybe I wasn't paying that close attention. I think the hardest part was hearing them play Taps. Chokes me up every time!


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Moviedude - Weren't you supposed to do one of these write ups as well. As for crying - I think everybody was crying that day. I just had a few more reasons because of all the confusion on post... and pregnancy hormones don't help either! :) Love you too!


marellen 5 years ago

Wonderful and heartfelt story BBG. I agree that we must say I love you and give hugs to the people we love because you just never know when tragedy will strike. Your story was very compelling and I'm glad you and your husband were safe.


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Marellen - Thank you for the heartfelt comment. It is sad that sometimes it takes such a tragedy for us to realize how important everyone in our life is.


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

BBG - I will never forget that day either. I was working in the sleep lab - research study - I was concerned that my subject might have family in NY and my boss would not allow me to inform our subjects of the disaster. I felt like it was time to take the "subject" title out and I reminded her these are real people- still.....she did not let me tell them until that night.

Thanks so much - to you and Eli - for being American Soldiers! Ready to pack it up and jump into action for people you don't even know - that's above and beyond!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

When you find yourself totally absorbed in the content of a Hub, you know it's a very good one.

Up and awesome.


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Real - As I was reading all of the 9-11 stories it got me thinking about those who didn't have the option to drop eveything and just stare in disbelief as we were being attacked... Say the woman who was having a baby. She isn't just going to stop being in labor because of a terrorist attack. I am glad that I could just sit and watch. Others didn't have that opportunity! I wish your boss would have let them find out, but I guess if it is something important, you just can't stop.


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Will Star - Thank you very much for the compliment. I am glad I could share my story with you.


Cloverleaf profile image

Cloverleaf 5 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

Hi barbergirl, thank you for the reminder of how we should always live in the moment. I was absorbed in your hub from start to finish and am voting up!

Cloverleaf


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

Hello, BBG, i think that most of us remember the day and what we doing the moment the news hit. There has been many other catastophic events that have had the same effect for me, anyway. For the millenial generation this was the EVENT.

Thanks Cred2


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Cloverleaf - Thank you so much for the compliment... as the saying goes... and I can't think of it exactly, but that is why they call today the present! :) Live life like tomorrow never comes!


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Cred2 - I agree with you. There are so many tragedies that just stick in our head. This one just happens to be a big one. It won't ever be forgotten, but sadly, something else will eventually replace it.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

Thank you for this hub, BBG ... like most people in the UK I could hardly believe what I was seeing on that fateful day.

I think it is helpful and important that we should read the reactions of military personnel to that day as they have had to carry the can for the war on terror ever since.

Bless you.


jean2011 profile image

jean2011 5 years ago from Canada

Thank you for your courage in a difficult situation. Thanks also for the work you do to help save live. I have voted this hub up. Continue to be strong!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

So true BBG - I sat in the hotel room starin at the television in disbelief......I was working the day shift and I was driving to work when I heard on the car radio that the first plane had hit the tower - the DJ's were speculating that it was an accident....I got to the hotel just in time to see the video footage of the second plane hitting and I remember thinking....that's no coincidence. The hotel was somber all day - usually there were people in the lounges and around the pools - that day it was disturbing, quiet. Even in the Midwest - the populous was in shock.


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Angie - Thank you for the wonderful comment. I think it is important for us all to tell our story. Each one of us have a different view and a different reaction. There are so many stories that can come out of one terrible tragedy!


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Jean - Thank you for your wonderful compliments. I am very proud to have served this country and would do it again in a heartbeat. Thanks for the tweet as well! :)


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Real - It is strange to see how people react to different situations. I can only imagine how somber people were the day it happened... especially when you are out and about. I was at home all day. What I started seeing was the hecticness of the day after... how it took us almost 3 hours just to get on base. It was crazy how things changed so incredibly fast!


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

Hi BBG,

Thank you for sharing your story and for the great reminders of what should be important in our lives.

Sharyn


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Sharyn - Thank you for stopping by. It is definately a good thing to occasionally be reminded to remember the good, every day, and not when we remember a tragedy! :)


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

This is a great hub to remember this terrible day in history. It really demonstrates the triumph of Americans over such a vicious act. Well done!


Julie DeNeen profile image

Julie DeNeen 4 years ago from Clinton CT

Beautifully written!


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

You come to this with a different perspective than most--passing this one on!


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@tammyswallow - Thank you so much. It is amazing how hard this day is and continues to be.


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Julie DeNeen - Thank you. It is a bit of an emotional piece! :)


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@AudreyHowitt - Thank you so much - I hope the others enjoy this as well.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

My husband was in New York one week earlier and remembers seeing the Twin Towers from the air. He was putting a business deal together and because his "would have been" business partner lost several people in that attack it never came to fruition.

That morning I was over at my mother's home because she had been ill. We were watching the Today Show when "all hell broke loose." We could hardly believe our eyes when the first plane hit...and then it continued to get worse as more news rolled in.

A friend of mine was coming here from Europe and her plane got grounded for some time in Canada.

This many years later, so many people continue to die because of terrorism. Very sad situation!

As you said, we should never take our tomorrows for granted. Glad that your husband did not become one of those who come home injured or in body bags. Thanks to both of you for serving our country!


Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 4 years ago from Hawaii

Wow. What a moving story. I am at a loss for any other words - thanks for sharing.


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Peggy W - This event effected everybody. We were close to the situation because we were in the military but the amazingness of this is how everybody came together. It is sad that this fight has caused so many deaths but it truly makes us realize what is important in life!


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Natashalh - Thank you - I appreciate the support!

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