Monday, September 6, 2010

Honoring Heros

In remembrance of 9/11, we'll be sharing our stories of heros with you. Whether they be real, from our own writings, or taken from that historic time in our country. The terrorist attack on the pentagon and World Trade Center, as well as the downed plane in Pennsylvania, will be forever carved into the minds of our nation.

Like when Regan was shot, the Berlin Wall came down, or Lady Di was killed, many of us will be able to recall the exact place and setting in which we received the news. I happened to be feeding my ten-month-old daughter in a high chair while watching Regis and Kelly when the first plane hit. My husband worked from home and I raced downstairs to interrupt his conference call to tell him the news.

We found out later that Pete's roommate for four years in college, Henry Ryan, who belonged to Engine 7 Ladder 1, happened to be filming a French documentary with the Naudet brothers that day. The group was on a call ten blocks away, with the cameras rolling, when the first plane went in to tower number two. The men were the first to arrive on the scene, the first team to make it in, and the only rescue team to make it out without losing a man.

It still gives me chills when I think about it. And when we went to Henry's wedding a year later it was spine-chilling to see the dance floor fill up with the solemn-faced brave men and toast the heros who didn't make it out that day. I felt small in their presence, which was not accurate by any stretch of the imagination — I was eight months pregnant with my son by then.

My nephews were teen and pre-teen when 9/11 happened. All three were affected by it in their own way, ways I will only be able to guess at. One grew up determined to help. In eighth grade, Asa organized his school to send care packages overseas when the war first started. Much to our dismay, all three nephews joined the Army when they became men; first Asa, then Justin, and finally Eric.

Please don't think our dismay is because we don't support them, we do. We had hopes of the safety of college or a secure job for them all, but they made their own choices. Recently, after a year-long deployment overseas in Iraq, the youngest one, Eric, died in a motorcycle accident. In our minds he is a hero for serving his country, just like all the men who do so now and who have in the past, whether he died in service or not.

The brave men and women, of all races, all religions, and of all sexual preferences, who serve in any capacity, are heros in my mind. Most times what they do is a thankless job. Whether they are firemen, soldiers, policemen, medics, doctors, nurses, teachers or clergy, they all serve our populace and are heros to our country. We only seem to honor them when the chips are down and not 24/7 like we should, but it's much better now than it was after Vietnam, so I'm not going to complain too much.

Perhaps as a whole, we all need to remember Kennedy's words and hold them closer to our heart:
"Ask not what your country can do for you, but you can do for your country."

Without the people, the people with attitudes that reach beyond their own needs and their own interests, where would we be as a nation?

On the whole, there might be lots of things wrong with our country right now. But one thing everyone can be proud of is the heros we have within our ranks. They may not fit into the cookie-cutter alpha role many authors portray them as, they may look and act just like you and I — but they are heros nevertheless. And I'm honored to know them, one and all.

Where were you the day the planes hit? Do you have a story of heroism you'd care to share? Do you have a soldier you'd like me to send a care package to? Asa is returning to his home base soon and asked me to not send him my latest two packages. If you have a relative serving overseas who'd like one, please comment and leave your email, I'll select two soldiers randomly to receive them.


  1. I watched the towers fall on TV as my son watched them fall from his dorm room at NYU. Something I never thought I'd share with one of my children. My husband was on the NJ to SF flight 7 days prior, having taken our son back to start school, and almost stayed an additional week.

    In many ways, the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy brought out the best in us all. And made us one, as, unfortunately, any tragedy does. I do remember where I was when JFK was killed, as well as RFK and Dr. King.

    The men and women who live to keep us safe have my complete devotion and thanks. Anyone who steps up to the plate is a hero in my book. Thank you.

  2. I was driving through the Alaska Range on my way to give birth to my twins. We didn't have a clue what happened until we got to town and my husband's mother called to say her flight had been canceled. It was such an emotional time for us, brining two lives into this world as we watched hundreds die.

    Wonderful post.


  3. Thanks, Sharon. I was going to mention the JFK and Dr. King deaths, but since I was not around when it happened, they were not my memory to share. Thanks for adding yours here as well.

  4. So were your girls born on that day or the 12th? I imagine it's got to be hard to have a celebration when the news covers the tragedy. But, at the same time, wars and battles are about protecting the lives and the families we hold dear. Celebrating life is the greatest compliment we can give to those who serve - because without them we would not have our life as we know it.

    Thanks for sharing, Boone.

  5. That is an amazing story, Boone. I can't believe you were going through childbirth while it was all happening. It must be so strange remembering it all now.