There are two distinct days that book-end a 4 day span, which make up a reflective block of time in my life. The end date is September 11th, which of course changed our world, our country and personally my life. There was a lot of bad that happened that day; death, destruction, and despair. However a lot of good came from that event, and I know that sounds bad and it may sound bad later because it could come across as selfish but it isn’t. The first date is September 8th, as that was my first “Alive Day” that has been mentioned many times on this blog.
The latter day (Sept 11th) came 5 years before the first day but is the reason the first day (Sept 8th) came to be. On Sept 8th of this year, I woke up to check my email and see a yearly familiar email from an old friend, Scooter. It is a day, and a moment that he and I share together and are forever bonded by. Its almost like the explosion of heat, fire, shock and twisted metal, twisted our lives together. Scooter is still serving and lives several states away, but he has never forgotten to reach out, nor do I fail to reach out to him. I don’t hear from him much over the rest of the year, but I can always count on us connecting on this day; the first significant Alive Day of several, but it was the first. I won’t go into detail about what happened as I have talked about it many times on this blog already (http://bouhammer.com/2006/09/twenty-five-feet-made-the-difference/).
However I want to highlight the brotherhood, the bond, and the fusion that Scooter and I have. Its hard to explain, and even harder to place a reader in the spot we were in which bonded us so tightly, but I can tell you the panic that occurs in milli-seconds when you think your friend could be wounded or dead is a feeling you will never forget. I don’t necessarily remember every event or action in Afghanistan after 12 years, but Sept 8th 2006 will never be forgotten. It really brought a smile to my face on Saturday morning as I poured a cup of coffee and looked at my phone to see the email from Scooter. It is weird to think such a terrible act which took the lives of a couple of brave Afghan soldiers that were friends of ours could now be an event that I reflect on fondly in a weird way, but only because of the bond it created with Scooter and myself.
This weirdness is how I also look at the other date, September 11th. It was a terrible day and still brings up a wealth of emotions, even 17 years later. However this day spawned many other good things. It was due to this day that I started blogging, met many great friends in the military blogging community and have had many awesome experiences due to blogging. I also met and served with many great soldiers, including Scooter. I have developed life-long friends that have had major positive influences on me and my family, all the way to present-day. Not every friend was someone I served or blogged with, many just crossed my path for a variety reasons that could be traced back to the attacks on Sept 11th.
The other weirdness of the “good” that came from Sept 11th, was the patriotism, the loyalty, the civility and caring among people, and the overall love of our country that came out of the attacks. If you think back to the days, weeks and months following the attacks, none of the bullshit and “noise” that many people seem to typically concern themselves with mattered. Nobody cares about missing their favorite show, were ashamed to pray, or felt awkward showing patriotism. Nobody saw color, nobody cared about your politics and everyone loved the first responders. Not just in NYC, but everywhere around the country. Everyone fell in love with the brave Americans on flight 93 and embraced the mantra of “Let’s Roll” as a national call to action.
So its during these 4 days sandwiched between Sept 8th and 11th that I usually spend a lot of time thinking back to 2001 and all that has happened since then. I wonder where I would be today and where our country and world would be today had those attacks never happened. Its hard to imagine what it would be like as our country was so dramatically taken off track that the post-9/11 days became the “new normal”. I don’t get depressed during this time but just more introverted and self-analyzing. For example I spent Saturday mowing, doing yard work and generally working hard outside all day, but I did it with a smile on my face. In my head I kept thinking how lucky I was to be still alive and home working on my yard. I know that seems weird but in retrospect its a place I was grateful and blessed to be, rather than having my family visiting my gravesite.
Everything needs to be put into perspective so as this 11th of September winds down and your social media feeds are full of patriotic imagery, sayings and hopefully memorable posts, please keep the “good” in mind tomorrow, Sept 12th and beyond. Think about how you felt on those days 17 years ago. Think back to what you were most concerned about back then 17 years ago. Think about who you were worried about 17 years ago. Think back to what really seemed important and what really didn’t matter anymore. Think back, reflect on it and try to focus on those important things again…seventeen years later. Ignore the rest of the noise as it will always be there and will never go away.