There was a popular song in the late '80s that spoke of “the end of the innocence.” It came to mind in 1999 with the massacre at Columbine High School. That tragedy was not only physically close to Colorado Springs, but emotionally close as I had a family member there that day who thankfully survived.
But I realize any sense of security I once had about the world was extinguished with the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The last several days I have been seeing much written about the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and how we need to remember where we were that day, what we were doing and to never forget. I can honestly say that I have never lost sight of the horror of those attacks and the horrors that would follow for years after it.
I clearly recall dropping my youngest off for preschool that Tuesday morning, and on my way home receiving a phone call from a neighbor who shared what was happening. I was blindsided. Then a dear friend phoned from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport where her plane to the East Coast had abruptly landed; she needed information as the people on her flight had been told nothing. I filled her in as best I could and was grateful to know she was OK. I picked up my two older children from school — they were then 6 and 8 years old at the time — and then got their younger sibling from preschool.
I just wanted them near me — I've always been aware that Colorado Springs could be a target for terrorism considering the many military bases we have here. My younger two were blissfully unaware of anything unusual going on but my eldest knew something was up. I tried to give him a little age-appropriate information without frightening us both more. (Of course, the idea of having to figure out an appropriate way to describe terrorism to a child is ridiculous.)
When our country subsequently began its war in Afghanistan, my oldest asked me about it as it was being discussed at school. I told him then that I took no joy in the thought of people dying. That is still my position. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “an eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind.”
Fast forward 20 years — I'm still aware of the threat terrorism poses and how little we really have to protect ourselves. But now I worry far more about the homegrown threats within our own country. And that to me is a far greater tragedy.
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