It's hard to believe that nine years ago, someone walked into my classroom and quietly whispered to me, "There is something terrible going on in NY. Make sure you don't turn on your television for any reason." So, as soon as I settled my children into an assignment, I turned the television away from them and turned on CNN, pushed mute and read the captions. At which point, my heart and stomach exited my body. I quickly turned the TV off and pretended that all was well with the world, even though reality as every one knew it had shifted about 10 degrees to the evil.
I couldn't stop watching the round-the-clock coverage. It became an addiction for me. I had a wedding shower the weekend after in the town where I grew up. Every chance I had, I was parked in front of the television, watching the same stories over and over again, crying, kleenex piling up beside me. I'll never know how I made it through the shower. It seemed to weird celebrating when buildings were still smoldering.
I remember one story in particular. A lady could not find her husband (I don't remember the details: maybe he was a rescue worker or perhaps he'd been at work in one of the towers), but she was pregnant and gave birth during the weekend, without her husband. She was so devastated that she couldn't even name her own daughter. The doctors named the baby Hope. Every year on 9/11, I pray for that family. Hope will be 9 years old in a few days. Did her father ever come home? Was he missing or dead? Hope. Hope. Hope. So much promise in such a tiny name.
And now, 9 years later. My own brother is out fighting evil on the streets, trying to make our nation a little safer, one traffic stop, one broken law, one stray bullet at a time. He was only 18 when the planes flew into the towers. He's had a rough, bumpy road, but he's found himself living his life's dream while wearing a bullet proof vest and a gun holster.
I could not be more thankful that there are men and women like him, who are willing to take on the dark sides in this world so that we can live in a country where we are free. Men and women who will confront all that is not safe to make us safe. Men and women, police officers and firefighters, who knowingly walk into situations that are dangerous and scary so we can close our eyes at night with confidence and sleep in peace.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.