I am a contributor for the Sept issue of Today's Mama, an online e-zine. The subject is 9/11/01 memories. This is what I wrote:
The morning was like most others. I was busy trying to put myself together and nagging my son to hurry up. I got him to school to board a chartered bus that would take him and the other sixth graders to the gloriously beautiful spot in Texas known as Enchanted Rock. The sixth graders were to participate in several days and nights of outdoor education, a part of the school’s curriculum.
The weather was good. I stood around in the parking lot of the school with other moms, chatting, catching up with each other. One mom friend was sitting in her new SUV – the one with the cool media screens in it – and she was watching an early morning news show.
The bus left with our children. My friend got out of her SUV to wave goodbye and came over to a group of us. “Have you heard?” “What?” “We’ve been attacked”. On it went. All of us were too shocked to say anything other than simple questions and listen to her answers. Then she said, “We are a nation at war now.”
My first reaction to that simple statement was, no, she’s just exaggerating. We aren’t at war. We had been through a long slumber of treating attacks to our military and embassies as though they were criminal acts, not acts of war. But, this proved to be a different attack. On our own soil. Thousands of our neighbors and visitors to our country were dead. It was too horrible to imagine. I went to the school library, where I was a regular volunteer, and sat at one of the little tables to let it all sink in, in quiet. Rumors were rampant. The school’s Internet access in the library was shut down so that students wouldn’t read news accounts before they could be told. Lots of airplanes were unaccounted for.
And, then the second attack.
My husband had landed in Hong Kong, on a business trip, in the wee hours of the morning here. My son was on a bus to an adventure. We were all scattered and it was a surreal feeling. I went home and watched the television coverage, as the rest of the nation did then.
Turns out, we are a nation at war.
What strikes me to this day, reflecting back, is the sadness we all felt as we dealt with the utter shock of the day's events. We were awakened from a long slumber. There is no going back. We are still a nation at war.
I remember the some not very complimentary examples of less than professional behavior from the news media and then in the days following, from the politicians hoping to stir up partisan attacks on the President and his administration. That would continue for the next eight years.
President Bush did not go into office as a war time President. He became one on 9/11/01.
Bush had 90% approval rating after his address on the ground at Ground Zero - a number never before, or after, seen. Then, he would suffer the abuses of the Democrats looking to score political points on the tragedy. Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy going to the floor of the Senate and demanding to know what the President knew and when he knew it. It was as though Hillary had complete amnesia that her own husband's administration had dealt with threats from Osama bin Laden for the previous eight years. While speaking during a joint session of Congress in 2005, the State of the Union address, Bush was booed and heckled by Democrats who were by then loudly anti-war on everything, mostly for political points. How quickly all of that is forgotten in today's finger pointing of Democrats on anything they view as offensive behavior from Republicans.
I remember news anchors like the late Peter Jennings demanding to know why the President didn't immediately return to the White House from his trip to Florida where he was reading to school children as a part of his No Child Left Behind initiative. The President was in the hands of the Secret Service and they refused to allow his return but hacks like Jennings assumed they knew better. They implied the President was cowardly - in hiding. They made me sick on that day.
We saw Democrats loudly boo President Bush during joint addresses of Congress - in particular his State of the Union address in 2005 - yet Democrats want to censure Rep Joe Wilson for his outburst during a joint session of Congress address on Obama's health care initiative.
The bottom line is this - we have been without attack on our soil since 9/11/01. President Bush was a strong and persistent leader. Leaders around the world were not confused as to where he stood on our national security. After seven years of continued criticism for his decisions, Obama retains and continues most of the Bush foreign policies. That speaks volumes.