Yesterday we attempted to celebrate the 13th birthday of my oldest daughter. I didn't go as planned. We have a tradition that on everyone's actual birthday we have cake and they get to choose anything they want for dinner. It's a time to celebrate their day with just our family and without the chaos of a party with all of their friends. We have a huge party, just never on their actual birthday. Well, I had the cake in the oven, the dinner on the stove and then BAM, power failure. There were no storms and it was sunny out so I figured it was some little thing that would be fixed in a few minutes...nope it was a couple of hours. We eventually loaded up the kids in the car because it only took a few minutes for the house to become ridiculously hot. We popped in a Sponge Bob DVD and headed out for burgers. I can't help but believe that it being her 13th birthday had something to do with it. After all, 13 is the most dreaded and feared number. I was worried that the cake was going to be ruined but it wasn't. Tonight I am going to attempt her birthday dinner again. Fingers crossed no power outages.
I've been lucky, so far there haven't been any major events around the kid's birthdays or holidays. Nothing negative to associate with our major life events. Except for her birthday. The day after her birthday all I can think about is 9/11. I remember exactly what I was doing that day. I was laying in the bed with a sleeping week old baby. I answered the phone and was told to turn on the news because a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. As I watched the news I can remember asking myself what happened. Mechanical failure, pilot error, sick flight crew, was the pilot drunk or stoned? Never did the idea of a terrorist attack cross my mind. Then the unbelievable happened. ANOTHER plan hit the World Trade Center, a plane hit the Pentagon, a plane crashed in a field. I realized this was no coincidence but terrorism still never crossed my mind. I tried to find, what I thought, could be a logical reason. Were they all the same type of plane? Maybe it was a defect. Did they all leave the same airport? Maybe there was a storm and planes were damaged without anyone realizing. Maybe this was a coincidence. A very tragic, scary coincidence.
I lay there, an18 year old child, looking down at my new baby trying to figure out what was going on. At that moment I never thought of the people involved. The passengers on the planes, the workers in the trade centers, if there were any people in that part of the Pentagon..all I could think was what else is going to happen.
I think terrorism never crossed my mind because I was still a kid. I knew there were bad things in the world but I didn't realize how much evil there was. I knew that there were wars but there was always a reason for them...not always a good reason but you could always say we went to war because...insert reason... Little did I know I would be saying we went to war because someone managed to create unbelievable death and devastation on our soil. Someone came to our home and attacked us.
You learn about the Civil War, Vietnam and World Wars in school and think that is all in the past. You don't expect to actually experience a war, at least I didn't..not a major war. The most memorable events from my childhood were Desert Storm/Shield. I remember them. I don't remember who, what where or when from my childhood. I was just a kid. I didn't think war was a big deal. We sent some soldiers overseas, they handled the problem and then everyone came home. Wow, it was nice being a kid. The biggest event that I remember is the OJ Simpson chase. I remember watching it on TV. I remember laughing because the "high speed chase" was going at what seemed like 10mph. I didn't know the story behind it or who he was. I was just entertained watching the white Bronco slowly driving around. Now I think back to that and wish that all police chases followed OJ's example. I vaguely remember someone blowing up something but that was the actions of 1 mentally ill person. There were also the Rodney King riots. I remember seeing it on the news. I didn't understand what happened...I was 10 years old. All of the major events, that I remember, were isolated. They didn't take years and years of hate to plan and they were not wide spread. They didn't bring the entire country to their knees and create a fear that is still present to this day. They didn't leave us fearful to leave our homes and they didn't result in our first response to any tragedy being a fear that it was another terrorist attack.
Once they began reporting that this was a terrorist attack I was even more confused. Terrorists don't come to the US. Terrorism is something that happens in other, small countries. Terrorism is when a small group of people take over small villages...it doesn't happen in large countries and it doesn't happen here. Then my thoughts turned to how did this happen. How were they able to get into our country? How were they able to get control of 4 planes? What did they do to force the pilots to do this? Did they fly the planes themselves? How were they able to plan something this large without anyone finding out? I was glued to the TV for days. Every morning I woke up fearful of what was going to happen that day. Worried that the next attack would be close to home. I would tell myself, and I still do, they won't attack Mississippi..we don't have major cities, we aren't important...they have no reason to bother us. I still worry every day that something bigger will happen. I now worry that ISIS is crossing the Mexican border. Since hearing that Americans are fighting with ISIS I worry that there are Americans across the country working with ISIS and just waiting until they get their orders. I worry that we will wake up one day to reports that smallpox, ebola or the plague are being used as weapons. I believe there will be another terrorist attack. I believe it is in our near future and I believe it will be worse that 9/11.
My children, my daughter especially, know what 9/11 is. They know what terrorists are. They know there is evil in this world and that evil tries to destroy everything good. I hate that every year when her birthday comes around 9/11 is on everyone's mind. I wish, for her, that her birthday wasn't the time of year that everyone remembers this tragedy and I pray that when she is an adult that the worst thing that happened during her childhood is 9/11.