dsc_0042It’s hard to believe it’s been fifteen years since that fateful day when the American public lost its innocence. I’ve been trying to watch the testimonials and such that have aired most of the day, but the trauma of that day, and how it has changed our world, is hard to face.

My memories of that day are unremarkable. I worked at the time as an administrative assistant for Reengineering, an organization on Robins Air Force Base that focused on improving the mission by improving processes. I was on my computer, working on yet another PowerPoint presentation for one of my bosses, when someone ran through the office shouting that an airplane had just struck one of the buildings at the World Trade Center. Since attacks against this complex had happened before, I dismissed the event, sad to say. But when a second strike occurred, we all knew something very bad had happened.

The television we had on a cart in the back of the conference room was brought to the office and plugged in, and we walked past it while conducting our routine, but we became more and more attracted to the horrors on the news. It became clear early on that something very bad, even catastrophic, had begun, and the reactions were mixed. Some cried, some paced the office in anger, and others grew concerned about their loved ones. The overall mood grew darker by the moment.

I recall looking in on our director, and watching his face turn red. You had to know our colonel as well as I did to know he was royally pissed – he turned red from the collar up. He was something like a pressure gage. The deeper the red got, the more likely he was to explode, and the man was glowing. He muttered something like, “I knew we should have taken him out when we had the chance”, but I didn’t understand. Later, my husband told me he was probably referring to Osama Bin Laden, someone I had never heard of before since I rarely watched the news. The colonel dismissed everyone, civilian and contractor alike, but while I watched the other secretaries leave and the director obviously staying, I simply couldn’t leave, even with the promise of a full-day’s pay. I stayed and supported my colonel until the day was done.

The base locked down overnight, so it took me two and a half hours to reach the base gate to go to work the next day. It didn’t get any better over time, in fact, it got much worse. My husband’s hours grew longer because he was still active duty Air Force at the time. Even the kids tell me they felt the stress. In fact, I finished the Tigger mural pictured here for my oldest daughter just three days before, and she is emotionally attached to it. When we get ready to sell, I’ll have to figure out how to carve it out of her bedroom wall and mount it on a canvas for her. When the state of the world was at its worst, she would look at the pleasant face painted on her wall, and all was well again. I wish my world was as easy to tame.

Our government has betrayed us. Terrorism has reached an all-time high in the last seven years. I’m afraid to go to any restaurant, theater, or other “soft target” for fear some extremist will want to make an example of me. We should have been fostering peace, but now even greater threats loom, and I can’t blame anyone but our federal leadership. Even domestic issues have accelerated until I’m afraid of everyone. I won’t ever fly again – there’s just too much danger, either of life or limb, or of dignity. I’m not a biggot, or a homophobe, or an islamaphobe, or any other phobe. I’m simply afraid of being punished for who I am, and won’t be able to walk the streets in confidence until our world, as a whole, gets better.

So today I pray for our nation, as I pray for the world and all mankind. If only we could all live in the peace and mutual respect I write about in Haven’s Realm.

~Tamara Monteau



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