This is a slightly edited post from one I wrote five years ago titled “9/11 Five Years Later”.
FiveTen years and one day ago was September 10th, 2001 and I had just flown in to Boston-Logan Airport that day to begin another week with my client. I was an independent contractor at the time and was working on a large project for Sun Microsystems, Workscsape Inc, and General Motors. The week of 9/10/01 was a week of system load testing and performance testing. So I flew in during the morning and went to the client site. This type of work had to be done at night when users were not on the system, so during the day I got settled in, answered emails, and re-checked the testing systems and monitoring systems for the evening’s test. The testing started at 6:00 PM and went until about 4:00 AM on 9/11/01. After the testing was over I went to my hotel and fell fast asleep. Prior to going to bed, I shut off the ringer on my cell and set the alarm for noon to I could get up, get ready and back into the office for the next night’s testing.
I know it was very tough for people to watch the events on the morning of 9/11 to unfold before them and it essentially numbed our nation. However I think the way I found out was very tough, if not tougher. I woke up with my alarm and immediately noticed that my voicemail light on the phone was blinking. I remember thinking I was glad I turned that ringer off. I opened my phone to see multiple missed calls from my wife, brother and parents. I also saw a few text messages that told me to call home ASAP. My heart dropped as the first thought was something happened to one of my parents. I called my wife who told me to turn on the TV. As I did, she was rattling off what had happened with planes into both towers, both towers are down, one plane into the Pentagon, one plan crashed near Pittsburgh (where my brother and his family lives), the country under attack, planes being grounded, etc., etc., etc. This is where I experienced what I call information overload. My mind honestly could not handle what I was hearing from my wife and seeing on the TV. She was telling me the towers were down, but my mind was seeing pre-recorded images of the towers standing and burning and I was arguing with her telling her “they are not, I can still see them standing”. My mind could not comprehend what I was seeing. It was a very emotional and confusing moment. After I hung I up from her, sitting on the end of the bed in my hotel room, I wept… just plainly wept. Crying for my country, and my fellow Americans. As I drove into the office, I was on the phone with my National Guard unit trying to make contact with someone and angrily asking what I could do and when we were being called up. The next day I was flying about 90 mph down the I-90 back to Buffalo….
The difference between five years after and ten years after is that five years after when I originally wrote the above post, I was in Afghanistan, at war. I was there as part of the retaliation for those attacks. Now that it is ten years after, I am a contractor working for the Army supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So as I look back at both milestones ( five and ten years after) and think about all the time in between, it hits me how much my life has changed since 9/11/01. My life is completely different today than it ever would have been had those attacks not ever happened. Not only my life but pretty much everyone in the military today or that has been in the military anytime in the last 8-10 years.
I wonder how many friend’s, past soldier’s, comrade’s lives would be different by just still being here and not buried six feet deep. How many people I know who have been wounded in combat, that would still have all their parts, pieces and wits?
So as I look back ten years it is not just reflecting on the sad day ten years ago, it is trying to imagine what my life would be like without the friends I have developed as a result of my deployment, my work today and especially my blogging. My blogging friends, whom are all milbloggers, are a major part of my life and some of my closest friends I have ever had. It is almost like after having a wife and kids for several years, and then trying to imagine what life would be like today without them and trying to imagine what life was like before them.
In looking back I have a hard time remembering what the Army was like before 9/11; before the war-footing we took on starting in October 2001. I also cannot imagine what my life would be like today without those events shaping the last ten years.
Ten years ago today, at this exact moment, I could not begin to imagine where I would be today. So as you can imagine, I really can’t even guess where I will be ten years from now.
I hope and pray that the pain and anguish which family and friends of those lost ten years ago experienced, has been dulled. However I wish and pray that the patriotism America experienced ten years ago would come back and be felt again.