On that day I was at work. I was working for a defense lobbyist about 1 block from Parliament Hill here in Ottawa Canada. It was early so we were just booting up, hanging coats and making coffee. Once the computer was on my MSN went crazy. Everyone was telling me to turn on the TV. So we did.
The first two hours:
Gut wrenching realization that the world, and my life, would never be the same. I had just gotten married in August to an Arabic linguist in the Canadian Air Force. I called him right away. I knew he would be pretty busy but I wanted him to know I was with him on that day; and that whatever lay ahead I was on his team. Bless his heart he took my call.
We joined the world in shock and fear as images of Armageddon and World War III rolled through our minds. We called family and friends. As we looked outside the streets were filled with people on cell phones as offices were being evacuated. Security in the downtown core of our nation’s capital was ramping up with all of the embassies located there; and as targets were identified more people were sent home. The downtown core quickly became strangely unpopulated in the beautiful morning sunshine. It really was a truly gorgeous fall day in Ottawa. It seemed incongruous. Like the eerie yellow sky before a tornado. Palpable.
No one knew how to react. You didn’t want to freak right out in the moment because somewhere deep inside we knew this would not be a quick thing. We knew our psyches would have great demands upon them for some time to come. You somehow knew you had to pace yourself. All I remember was the adrenalin rush that didn’t leave my life for the next 3 years as my military husband was repeatedly deployed overseas.
I still have a hard time watching the footage. I have tried diligently to avoid the images. I have decided to watch the tributes and footage this weekend. I have decided to briefly go to the grief that was unavailable to me in September 2011, as my husband and I endured and were quickly separated as he left on a ship from Halifax NS.
I will go briefly to the shared grief and be proud that we have, the survivors, come out the other side differently than we went in.
Some minds were opened, some were closed by these events. Security has taken on a whole new stratosphere. Social media can help us share our feelings on these events that we cannot deny.
My marriage did not survive the following years after 9/11 but I’m proud of my ex-husband’s contributions to keeping our serving military members safe in combat; and his abilities to keep civilians safe around the world. I’m proud to have supported his endeavours around the world. I’m proud to have been eventually posted to San Antonio,Texas where I served the Katrina victims for a year. I think it was the work I had wanted to do in the wake of 9/11.
The question of where were you on the morning of 9/11 has become this generation’s “Where were you when Kennedy was shot”. I believe we can take the disillusionment and morph it into energy focused on tolerance, wisdom, communication and a desire for a kinder gentler society.
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Namaste and have a great weekend.