Sunday, September 11, 2011


We were in Germany.  David was at work.  At the time, he worked in downtown Mannheim and he wore civilian clothes.  He was the only American Military person who worked in his office.  I was at home in our stairwell apartment.  We lived on the second floor.  Our housing area was open.  And we did not have to show an ID to enter.  There were no guards at the gate.  There was no gate. 

I loved the time difference because I could watch the Today show live broadcast on AFN (the Armed Forces Network), but it didn't start until 1 o'clock in the afternoon.  It was a normal, beautiful Tuesday afternoon in Germany.

Katie Couric interrupted a story to inform us that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center.  I thought, just like everyone that someone must have fallen asleep of had a heart attack.  It was sad, sure.  I was a tragedy, of course.  But it had to be an accident, right?

They changed the course of the show and began broadcasting live views of the tower that had been hit.  There was smoke.  And everyone was speculating about what could have happened.  As the talked, the screen was still on the live shot.  I was still watching when the second plane came into view and hit the second tower.  At that point, like everyone else in the world, I knew this was big.  I called David.  I called Momma.  And my best friend Tonya came straight to my apartment.  And along with a friend of hers from home, we were glued to the television all day and all night.  Pretty quickly, the American Military switched our security status to Delta.  This hadn't happened since David commissioned.  They started closing the streets to protect us.  There was even  brief talk of evacuating dependents.  We had no idea what was going to happen next.

In the days that followed, I was in awe of the outpouring of support that the Germans.  They placed candles and flowers at the edges of the post, at the newly formed gates.  They had services of remembrance.  They were truly heartbroken for all Americans that day.  And while I missed being on American soil with my fellow Americans, we were safe in Mannheim with our wonderful German friends and neighbors. 

I will never forget how it felt.  I will never forget the images that I could not stop watching flash across my television screen all day and all night from more than 4,000 miles away.  Or being in the post chapel holding candles with all of the other Americans who were with us in Germany.  The feelings of helplessness and sadness and grief and fear and anger that were mixed with pride and patriotism and adoration of all of the heroes that emerged.

And I will always be so grateful to our men and women in uniform who have been fighting back ever since. 

Below is a copy of the text of the address that President Bush gave on September 11, 2001.  In my opinion, these words capture the feelings that we all felt on that day; the feelings that we all still feel today, 10 years later.  May God Bless everyone affected by the horrible acts of September 11.  May God Bless all our military who continue to protect us and our freedoms.  And may God Bless America.

Good evening.

Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes or in their offices: secretaries, business men and women, military and federal workers, moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror. The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge -- huge structures collapsing have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong.

A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining. Today, our nation saw evil -- the very worst of human nature -- and we responded with the best of America. With the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could.

Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government's emergency response plans. Our military is powerful, and it's prepared. Our emergency teams are working in New York City and Washington D.C. to help with local rescue efforts. Our first priority is to get help to those who have been injured, and to take every precaution to protect our citizens at home and around the world from further attacks. The functions of our government continue without interruption. Federal agencies in Washington which had to be evacuated today are reopening for essential personnel tonight and will be open for business tomorrow. Our financial institutions remain strong, and the American economy will be open for business as well.

The search is underway for those who were behind these evil acts. I have directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.

Tonight, I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security has been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a Power greater than any of us, spoken through the ages in Psalm 23:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for you are with me.

This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.

Thank you. Good night. And God bless America.

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