I’m a firm believer that certain moments and/or life experiences alter us forever.
This coming Sunday marks the 15th Anniversary of 9/11, September 11th or later known as Patriots Day.
It’s a day when many discuss with others where they were, how they heard or how they responded. I myself have shared my own personal story here a few times. It’s a day which not only altered my life focus, but also my career path.
A Christmas letter I wrote in December of 2001 was the one and only writing sample I had for submission when I applied for a job at the Oakdale Leader in February of 2002. It was and will remain the one and only time I have personally written a Christmas letter.
The letter was pretty simple and more a venue to offer reassurance to our family and friends on the status of my children’s father who was on active duty overseas with the US Navy at the time.
Fifteen years ago we could not send out a Social Media blast and many of our family members did not have personal computers, smart phones, texting plans or e-mail for that matter.
This week, however, as I searched our archives through issues from September 2001, hoping to bring our readers a follow up story I was reminded how life indeed does go on.
As I read through the pages and the community members/city officials noted, I could not help but blurt out their names to Editor Marg Jackson. Principals, Police Chiefs, Mayors all different now, yet here she and I still sit.
I shared this thought with her and we each had a good chuckle. While I was not on staff for that September 2001 issue, I did begin my tenure just a few short months later, thanks to that letter. Hers was one of the two hands I shook when I accepted the job.
Funny how life happens.
Fifteen years later to hear the words ‘September Eleventh’ still marks an event for me. It’s no longer a date on the calendar and I’m not completely sure it will ever be. Prior to that date I’m not real sure of how many true History making occurrences my generation had lived through which were this memorable.
It is now reported that a quarter of Americans are too young to remember 9/11. A topic, which I discussed with my PIC (partner in crime), as well as in our staff meeting. It’s hard to fathom that much time has passed, but it has.
As parents, we recognize it as an event which altered us as people and as a nation. Some publicly and privately have forgotten about the freedoms which were challenged that day through terrorist acts. Some have forgotten the way as a country, we put differences aside and rallied for all those serving (regardless of uniform).
It was a powerful time to live through and while my memory is not always the best on day to day occurrences, some things you simply can’t forget.
So that’s where I’d like to leave this. Perhaps this year, rather than remembering where, how or when regarding the day’s event simply return to the person it inspired us to be. My hope of course is that many of you have remained that person.
Me? Where do I rank? Well, I can always listen better, smile more and let the ugly actions of others affect me less. On a typical day, I’m still the person altered by the fear I lived with during the months that followed the day we went on ‘high alert.’
Quite simply … there’s just always room to be a better human. Thank you to each and every one for reading the words I have the freedom to write and those in uniform (past and present) protecting that.
God bless us one and all. – Amen
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.