December 17, 2017

How 9/11 Changed My View of Starting a Family

9/11 Changed My View of Starting a FamilyBy Julie Samrick

I was a high school teacher on September 11, 2001, not yet a mother.  My husband and I had been married for just over a year and we’d recently begun talking about starting a family. Were we ready? And when it did happen, I worried about telling the principal I wouldn’t be back because I already knew I was going to be at stay-at-home mom. 
 
And then that horrific Tuesday morning occurred.
 
I woke early to my usually light-beat morning radio show, but heard the personalities’ voices oddly serious this time.  They were saying something about a commercial plane crashing into one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York.
 
I thought of two girlfriends who were both United flight attendants at the time.  Could they have been on those planes that accidentally crashed?
 
My teenage students were abuzz when the first period bell sounded, many of them still not knowing what happened right up until that point. I tried my best to keep their routine the same, but my mind was on New York.
  
Never more eager to get home from work, I sat transfixed, glued to the television set like the rest of America.  My heart alternately broke and swelled with pride.  When stunned friends and relatives held up pictures of their missing loved ones on live TV, when hundreds and hundreds of people clamored for 10 seconds to say their brother’s, sister’s, father’s, friend’s, coworker’s, or fiancé’s, name, the reality sunk in that this much angst and destruction was caused on purpose.
 
Tears streamed down my face, and I seriously considered enlisting in the Army when I saw American flags flown everywhere – everywhere – and the feeling of American togetherness that I had never known up until that point encompassed us all.  There were no politics: we were one, big American family.
 
I remember the interviews and the emphasis put on the hundreds of pregnant widows in the days that followed.  The question kept arising, in many shapes and forms, “Who would want to bring a child into a world with so much hate?”
 
I was struck by that question.
 
I thought about it, but the answer was an assured and thundering, “I do!”  More sure than ever in our decision to start a family, I knew right then that the best antidote to all that hate was love, the love I would give my future children and the goodness they’d bring to the world one day.
 
Just a few weeks later, I learned I was in fact pregnant. My son was born in June 2002, just nine months after September 11th.
 
On this 11-year anniversary of the attacks, I pause to think about the countless other children who have been born since 9/11.  These children will only learn what it was like to live through that time from our stories and their history books.  Yet, their presence must also remind us that it’s our number one priority to shape them to be good, honorable people. And that is the best way we can honor those lost on September 11, 2001.

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