Saturday, September 10, 2011


We've been a military family for nearly 20 years now. My G's been a Soldier for a little more than 20 years. 9/11/2001 neatly divides our experiences right down the middle-- Before, and After.

Before 9/11, my G had frequent field duty and the longest "away" was NTC or school. We thought that recruiting duty was the hardest thing to be thrown our way (and in some ways it was, even in contextual hindsight). We were used to missed birthdays and rescheduled special moments, because we were an Army family and that was how it was done.

After 9/11, field duty isn't so hard because no one is aiming at my husband. School means air conditioned classrooms. Being home is treasured in a way we didn't realize we needed to.

Before 9/11, we tossed around an alphabet soup of LES, PX, CQ. The Army was just beginning to grasp the idea that teaching new spouses about the Army life might be beneficial.

After 9/11, there is a new vocabulary. Deployment, redeployment, reunion, reintegration, stabilization, dwell time... Alert levels, anti-terrorism, colors that signify greater levels of stress and fear. Resilience, resilience, resilience. We learn to bend so we do not break. The brilliance of teaching spouses about Army life, became an absolute necessity.

I still remember the first time we drove onto Fort Riley in 1992, and there were giant stone pillars on either side of the roadway leading through Ogden onto Post. That was the only indication we were on Post at all. I grew up in a city with a tightly closed Air Force Base, so this openness blew me away. We both laughed.

Now there is a gate.

I think that the gates on our military installations are a reflection of the way we feel now, with two wars ongoing and as we enter into a time of remembrance of 9/11/01. That day was horrible, and the moments and months afterwards were filled with mourning and with renewed patriotism and resolve. We would not be beaten.

Yet... 9/11 stole something from us, much as Pearl Harbor must have stolen something from our grandparents. We've been robbed of an innocence and trust, robbed of a lighter view of the world. The country now realizes that there is no way to protect completely against craziness hell-bent on destroying us. They realize that sometimes we must fight back. Soldiers have always been for fighting, and operations tempo has always been harsh. The gates that close our military installations are internalized.

So... Before. And After. My prayer is that, as we remember the innocence lost on that September day, when the sun shone so beautifully, we also remember the resolve we created as a country. I pray that we remember the patriotism, and the ideals, and the reasons we fight like we do. Even as we remember those who were lost that day, I pray we remember those who are not lost and yet who struggle every day with the effects of After.

No comments:

Post a Comment