I hadn’t intended to post today. However, after a day of scrolling through Facebook, I would really like to share a few stories of women who have served or are serving in the military, and where they were on 9/11.
My Story: I guess I’ll start with my story. I left Japan on September 1. I was home on leave, en route to my next duty station in Sicily. My dad called from work. I really couldn’t believe it was happening. Nothing seemed real to me. As the shock wore off, I wondered if I was going to get a call to head to Sicily early. That didn’t happen, so I was very happy that I was able to be with my family at that time.
Susan’s story: A story I read on the 10th was shared by Susan Henson. She wrote about her experiences as a submission to the National Endowment for the Arts. At the time she shared this story, she was a lieutenant junior grade in the U.S. Navy.
On 9/11, she was working in the Pentagon. She and her coworkers felt the hit.
My friend, Suzette, was working with Susan. She had reached for the phone to call her husband when she looked up and saw the plane coming toward the building.
As the alarm sounded to evacuate the building, everyone headed to the courtyard.
Susan had some medical training, and had recently renewed her CPR qualification. She began to help in giving care to injured personnel in the courtyard.
Eventually, everyone had to go back through the Pentagon to fully and safely evacuate. Susan wound up being part of a team to evacuate a very injured woman to the hospital – a woman who life was now in their hands. Susan goes on to discuss the trip to the hospital, as well as how touched she was as people did little things to help her in helping others at the hospital. That day, everyone was doing anything they could do help others.
While the hospital had enough staff that Susan’s medical training was not needed, but the fact that she was in her Navy uniform, “no matter how dirty,” allowed her to help as a liaison for the Navy personnel being brought in.
Amaani’s story: 9/11 happened a year before Amaani enlisted in the military. She was living in Hollywood Hills with her two older brothers. Her brother, Thomas, woke her up, while running around the house screaming, “Emergency!” She said seeing it on the news felt surreal. (I agree) Even living in Hollywood, Amaani said it was like a Michael Bay movie. The events that day were not the only thing that led to her time in the military, but that, combined with an Army commercial, led to her enlistment in the Air Force. Yes, you read that right.
It just goes to show how much we all love our sister services. Yes, we give each other a hard time, but we are all siblings in one big military family.
Danielle’s story: Danielle was 18 years old, working at her job. After 9/11, she went to the Army recruiter’s office. By January, she was headed to boot camp. By the time her high school class graduated, Danielle was already serving in South Korea.
While there are a plethora of stories to share, Danielle’s story makes me think of how different it is today. Many of the women and men who join the military from this point forward are signing on to defend a nation that has been at war since they were born – a war that began as a result of 9/11.
All Hands magazine shared a video on Facebook about the women and men of USS New York (LPD 21).
The video talks about the ship and shares stories from personnel on board about where they were on 9/11. Some may have already been serving, some were from New York City. The ship pays tribute to 9/11, including the fact that the ship includes 7 1/2 tons of steel from the World Trade Center.
The video about USS New York isn’t a video about women serving, but it shows them right there, alongside the men, doing all types of work. All of these Sailors are out there defending our nation’s freedom.
Today, nearly two years after my retirement, I remember my friends at the Pentagon that day. I remember my fellow service members deployed around the world that day, many of whom had no idea what was going on that day in the first few hours, just that something big had happened, something that changed the world forever. I remember those who joined because of 9/11. Mostly I think of those still serving today.