Remembering our soldiers

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  • Reid is a graduate student in the MPA program. She lives in Bloomingdale.

Sammi Reid

Traffic on DeRenne Avenue in Savannah at 9 a.m. on any given day is a nightmare.  Multiply that times infinity for the day of September 11, 2001. My normal personal “dance-a-thon” was suddenly interrupted by breaking news: “A plane had hit the World Trade Center in NYC.” The initial speculation was a small plane prank had gone terribly wrong. But, to my surprise, the radio talent then made a statement that I will forever remember as the most shocking and horrifying moment of my life. “The second tower has been hit, I repeat, BOTH World Trade Center towers have been hit!”  I sped into my parking space and raced into the office. I said hello to no one, I went straight to our break room television. I said in slow motion, “It’s not a prank. This is real.” And then the plane crashed in Pennsylvania, followed by The Pentagon being hit. Then the dreaded line that any American could have never fathomed to be uttered in history, “The United States is under attack.”

Ten months before I had married the love of my life and a career Army man. I knew there would be no way to get onto base to see his face, to hug him tight, for him to tell me everything was going to be ok. My stomach began to become more and more sour and sullen. The reason I wanted to see him wasn’t just for the reassurance and safety that his presence always brought. It was because I knew there was a real possibility it would be the last time I saw him before he was deployed. My husband was part of a Special Operations Aviation Regiment…combat soldier. His unit’s motto was, “Anywhere in the world within 24 hours.” This didn’t bother me until now, until THIS moment.

Fears grew into panic as the energy in the office added fuel to anxiety.  And then I saw him. My husband was standing in my office. I have never seen anything so awesome or felt anything so deeply as the moment our eyes met. I began to cry silent, long-streaming tears as he walked slowly toward me. “Business as usual. That’s all I have to say. I was told to go home and hug my family. So, let’s go.”

Since 9/11, my husband has been deployed nine times to various countries throughout the world. Each time my heart gets broken seeing him go, but I fall in love all over again when he returns. If anything, the evil events on 9/11 have taught us to never take a moment of life for granted and to love deeply while we are within arms length. I am thankful he has come home unharmed each time. Others have been less fortunate. If you know a military family, thank them often. Each time we hear it, we are reassured that our time spent apart is not in vain.