I was a freshman in college, my first full week of classes at Ohio University. I had just moved into the dorms a week earlier, leaving my family and friends behind, almost five hours from home. I got back from my Poli Sci class to my roommate watching it all unfold on TV. Honestly, beyond that, the only other things I remember is my mom calling me crying, wanting me to come home and my dad being suspiciously quiet on the phone that night. I remember prayer vigils that night and throughout the rest of the week and then everything went back to normal.
It wasn’t until many years later, after I had kids of my own that the full impact of 9/11 hit me. I remember two years ago, on the 10 year anniversary, pregnant with Gavin, teeter-tottering between agonizing over how I could bring another life into a horrible, broken world and touched by the humanness that shown through that awful day, the day after and in different moments since then. Every year, I grieve with those who lost loved ones, think about the survivors and pray for the true heroes…firefighters, police offices, soldiers. The ones who deserve our thanks every day of the year, not just on Patriots Day.
I decided to start a new tradition this year. Liesl colored several pictures, very carefully wrote her name and asked me how to spell “thank you”. Seeing her childish scribbles spell out such a powerful message broke me. I wish we could all speak compliments, kind words and gratefulness from our heart so easily and without pretense.
We took the pictures to our local fire station and told the firefighters thank you for their service today and always. They gave us a mini tour of the huge ladder truck and even let Liesl give the driver’s seat a go 🙂 I know a few colored pictures is not adequate enough thanks for all that firefighters, police officers and soldiers do for us, but I thought it was a great start to teach my children. I want to teach them that a horrific day in September changed our country and so many lives forever, but that despite the awfulness of it all, we came out stronger as a country, as a people. I want to teach them to love, to empathize, to be proud of our country and to stand up for what they believe. I want to teach them to give thanks freely, especially to those who truly deserve it. I want to teach them to keep their faith in our sovereign God.
I want to teach them to never forget.