September 11th, 2001. I was still high from the events of the last week. On September 7th, my daughter Alexys was born. Christina and I were so excited. We had plans to begin looking for a house of our own and to officially begin our life as a family, no longer just a “couple”. But the world would have other plans for us. I remember waking up (not really, I had been up with the baby all night) on that fateful morning excited to get a good report from our pediatrician. This would be Alexys 1st visit with the pediatrician. We got everyone into the car and started working our way to Dr’s office. I remember being annoyed that the only thing on my normal radio station was news, so I started surfing the airways to find some music. Christina and I both remarked to each other about how odd it was that none of the usual stations were playing the usual music. Then we started listening to reports. At this time it was just continuing information and we were still in the dark about what had actually happened. It wasn’t till we got to the Dr’s office that we found out what had happened from the receptionist. By that time, the first tower had already fallen.
We continued with our appointment as planned. Our baby girl was healthy, and we felt blessed to have her. On our way home, we discussed the ramifications that the terrorist attacks would have on our family. See, on August 4th of that same year, I had graduated from Army Infantry Training at Ft. Benning, GA. I had joined the Maryland Army National Guard in February because it was something that I had always wanted to do, but had not yet done. Christina and I discussed it over several months and finally decided to make it happen. I think at this point we were both questioning my timing for this particular adventure. We listened to the news and wondered what this would mean for all of our plans. When I got home, I had two messages from my Platoon Sgt. (who, by the way, I had still not met since I had not yet attended a drill weekend since my graduation from basic). I remember he sounded pretty excited and was saying/yelling something to the effect of “pack your bags, we’re going to war!!!”. This of course sent several people into a panic. The rest of the day was spent making plans for the unknown. I packed my gear as instructed. And the wait for the unknown began. We put our house hunting ventures on hold. Stopped our planning for anything that would require me being present.
In the weeks and months that followed, like many Americans, we began to get back into the routine of daily life. Media of course continued to update us with what was happening at Ground Zero. And while we continued to wonder about what would happen, the prospects of my unit being activated for service started to creep further and further into the back of our minds. Shortly after the one year anniversary of that day, we started looking for a house again with the hopes that we could start our life together as a family in our own home. (Up until this time, we were still living with Christina’s parents. Not a bad thing, but we did want our OWN place). Then life threw us another curve ball. In December of 2002, my unit was called to active duty and in January of 2003 we left for Ft. Dix, NJ for “train up”. We were fortunate in that we were staying stateside, but it was still a pretty stressful year for the family. We once again put life on hold and waited till my orders were complete in January of 2004.
A lot has happened since that day. In July of 2004 we finally purchased our house. December of that year brought us a new addition to our family when our son Andrew was born. I continued to serve in the Army National Guard. Spring of 2006 would see a career change for me when I left Law Enforcement to build a new financial services practice with New York Life Insurance Company. 2007 saw the end of my military career as I was Honorably Discharged from the Maryland Army National Guard. 2008 saw another career change as I gave up my financial services practice for a management position with New York Life Insurance Company and moved the family to Florida. So much has happened in the last 9 years.
In the Spring of 2007 I was fortunate to be able to visit Ground Zero. I can’t tell you the span of emotions that swept over me that day. Standing there and seeing the results of the terrorist attacks still visible on some of the surrounding buildings. And then also seeing that the area was in the middle of being re-built. I was saddened as I walked through the museums and saw some the items recovered from the debris on that day, that represented so many lives lost. But I was also proud to see that we as Americans have not let it keep us down. We are re-building. And we are moving forward. We all lost so much that day. But it has not stopped us. Yes, we were knocked down for a moment. But we have gotten back up, dusted ourselves off, and honored those who lost their lives………by living ours.
To all of those who lost there lives on that day. To all of those who have given their lives in the fight for freedom. And to all of those serving in our military, past, present, and future. To America. I salute you, and thank you. I Will Never Forget.