Thursday, July 07, 2005

Reliving 9/11 All Over Again

9/11 affected me in many ways. I was a volunteer fire fighter at the time, living outside of DC, where I spent day after day in the aftermath. I still clearly remember that entire awful day, standing around the station, feeling entirely useless and helpless, watching guys I had trained with, recognized, and knew, fighting the fires at the Pentagon. While the rest of the world watched the Towers fall, I couldn't stop watching one particular blue helmet at the Pentagon. He was a good friend of mine that I wasn't on speaking terms with at the time. And throughout all of the awful things that happened that day, I couldn't stop worrying about him. I will never forget how much I cried when he finally walked back into the station.

I had my fair share of responsibilities over the next few weeks and months, and lived in the nightmare that all of America felt. I worked zealously at the station, wishing that somehow my sleepless nights were somehow helping. I was so grateful for the opportunity to serve as a fire fighter at the time. I knew my contribution didn't mean too much (after all it was Arcola, VA, not exactly a terrorist target, with the exception of that pesky State Dept mail facility), but at least I felt needed.

Now the war has come back to slap us all in the face. Bombs have gone off in the London Tubes. I can't help but stop and wonder about everytime I have complained about the extra security measures in DC. If those same measures had been in place (or were they in place?) in London, would this have happened? Would I be sitting here feeling completely useless in the face of terrorism again?

The first thought I had today after I heard about the attacks was about the safety of a few friends attending school there. I've worried about them all day. My second thought was that I want to call my old station and re-activate. I wish I could somehow be more helpful, feel more involved. My Naval officer aspirations didn't work out (back in 2001), but I've always wondered where I would be now if things had worked out. What if I hadn't blown out my hip? Where would I be stationed now? I have loved the last few years of my life (okay, I admit I could have done without some of the more awful experiences in 2003-2004), but I still wish I could have become an officer. Its strange how things turn out sometimes.

The war is back, not that it was ever gone. And all I want to know now is how to not feel so useless?

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