The True Adventures of an American Grandmother in Baghdad...
and Beyond

Memorial Day 2011
The following is by Mike King, a civilian contractor providing support to the military:

You are not free by accident! You are not free because you were born in America! You are free and enjoy the highest standard of living of any civilized country in this world. We have the richest poor of any country in the world. It is all because there are people who make the ultimate sacrifice all over this world to protect our free and democratic way of life. If you have a grandfather, father, mother, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, cousin or friend who has ever served you in some form of military service you need to remember to honor and remember the living and the dead, especially this weekend. Their selfless sacrifice is what makes them heroes.

I saw an interview of some injured soldiers and they were asked why they do what they do. They said they did it for you and me and they would do it again if they could or needed to. These people have a special calling to serve and protect our homeland from tyranny and destruction from a foreign enemy. Of course, we will probably destroy ourselves internally before an outside adversary destroys us, but that is another subject for another day. Please take time to call, speak to, e-mail or visit any soldier, sailor, airman or marine who has or is serving for you. Even if they are in the Reserves or National Guard they are subject to be called to service in a foreign land or even domestically like they are with the weather tragedies hitting all across this country. If you know civilians who have worked overseas recently in support of our military objectives they too deserve honor for their service. Civilians died, too working side by side and arm in arm with our heroic military. Remember the fallen heroes and celebrate the living heroes who walk among us.

Watch the video below and view the pictures presented. I am proud to be an AMERICAN and glad these guys are on my side. I would not want to be an opposing force trying to take on these dedicated men and women. We can win a war if provoked in short is the politics of war that keeps our men and women overseas and exposed for many years. If you just want to provoke us and let us go in and clean house....beware the U.S. Military can handle the job you just have to keep the politicians away.

Click this link below...

Enjoy these awesome photos of your military in action. The ones you won't see are the ones your family, friends and neighbors see in their mind's eye when they were in a fire fight and pinned down in a hot humid jungle or a scorching desert city. Hooray for anyone who has served and endured the triumph and tragedy of protecting this wonderful country called the USA. Most soldiers like most average American citizens prefer peace over war, but when push comes to shove I want these guys on my side.

A Peek in the Book
My room lit up with a bright flash and the walls rattled violently. I rolled onto the floor and squinted toward a window. Frantic voices filled the walkways outside as soldiers and civilians ran for the bunkers.
Has a rocket hit our building?

With my heart pounding—and thankful to be alive—I scrambled in the darkness to find my helmet and vest. It was my second night in Baghdad, and regardless of my intense training, I quickly realized that there is no way to fully prepare for the frightening realities of war. Experiencing a barrage of gunfire and explosions is a lot like being hooked up to a set of jumper cables.

Instant adrenaline!

I called out to a girl in the next bedroom. She had only been in country for a week prior to me, so I assumed—and rightly so—that she would probably be even more terrified than me. After all, I had about forty years on her.
“Evelyn, I’m OK,” she yelled back. “Have we been hit?”
“Don’t know,” I said, “but let’s get out of here. The bunker. Head to the bunker—NOW!”

My suite-mate and I decided to forego our robes and evacuate in pajamas, flak-jackets, and helmets. I imagine the two of us were quite a sight.

The equipment was heavy, even for a young person, so I helped her pull on her vest. Then we opened the front door and rushed into the night.

Camp Victory was dry and hot, and a mixture of smoke and diesel filled the air. More lights flashed in the distance, and the ground shook again—followed by more screams and frantic chatter. My legs and arms were moving faster than I ever thought was possible, especially for a grandmother! And just ahead, I spotted my goal: the entrance to a bunker. Would I make it?

Faster, Evelyn, I told myself. Run faster.

Re. Christmas 2010
Below is a letter sent from Iraq, that is worth sharing even though Christmas has passed; and now a few days into 2011.


Christmas 2010

With guns on their sides and slung over their shoulders, the soldiers came to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. I always stand in awe of these brave heroes as they sacrifice much for all of us. I have come to love and respect each of them as I serve them each day. My heart is on the birth of Jesus but my thoughts are with the families that have given an ultimate sacrifice or sacrifices. Especially Christmas Eve night as I offer up to our Lord the family of Lance Corporal Billy Crouse, former football player and graduate of Clinton (SC) High School, who died this week in Afghanistan along with his bomb sniffing dog, Cane. I did not know LCpl Crouse but he graduated from my alma mater and played fullback. I guess that is the reason he is in my thoughts. Please keep his family in your prayers.

As I look around Hope Chapel I am reminded of where I am-Cradle of Civilization, Muslim Country- and what I am doing--worshipping Jesus without fear. BUT, outside the base gates there are Chaldean Christians who cannot publically celebrate the Birth of Christ due to extremists who have threatened violence against them. They will celebrate but not in groups as we do inside the gates. Please pray that God will put His protective hands on these Christians.

God bless you and may each of you have a joyous and Merry Christmas!.

God's Blessings.


When we count
Our many blessings;
It isn't hard to see
That life's most valued
Treasures are the
Treasures that are free.

For it isn't what
We own or buy
That signifies
Our wealth.

It's the special
Gifts that have
No price:
Our family,
Friends and health.

Many of us have lost dear friends and loved ones this past year and our country as a whole has suffered great losses also. In times like this, it gives us a chance to stop and reflect and think about what is really important to us in this life; Just how precious and fragile it is, and to not waste what time we are given with the special people in our lives.

For me, it is the gift of family and friends that are the riches in my life. Those precious times that we hold dear to our heart and memories and special moments that can never be replaced, neither by time nor all the wealth in the world.

Whether you have planned a grand feast surrounded by friends and family, an intimate candlelight dinner for two, or a simple frozen dinner or takeout, it is not really the edible food, but rather who we share them with that counts most of all, and to me, this is the true value and meaning of Thanksgiving.

Please remember our men and women who are serving our country and can't be with their loved ones this year, as well as those who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan .

Good people sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. I want to share with you an email from a Marine to his mother in 2006.

From: Mark Wojciechowski
Sent: Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006
Thanksgiving often passes to some as another holiday: a day of food, family and football, with little more than just tradition and routine setting the tone. To some, it reminds them of the "American Heritage," the whole pilgrims came, made peace with the Indians, shared a harvest together -- and we still celebrate that today.
Thanksgiving is also, to most, a time to give thanks to the Lord, from which all things are made possible and whom without, there would be nothing to be thankful or unthankful for.
Perhaps it is now, [as] I am growing older and have a newfound respect for simpler and less tangible things, or the fact that I am unable to be where I would like to be sometimes, [that] I can describe what Thanksgiving means to me.
Obviously, Thanksgiving means being thankful for the things you have, but what does that include? I am thankful for being blessed with a wonderful family, a family that supports me in every way and is always there for me, even though I try not to need them as much as I probably should. I am thankful for health and well-being, not only my own, but the health and well-being of those around me which I love.
I am thankful for the society we live in and the comforts we take for granted each and every day. Although many will think our system is far from perfect, at least we can rest our heads each night without even so much as a remote worry of bombs being dropped, bullets being shot or poverty in our future.
Of all of the things I am thankful for, none of them would be as rich as they are without giving proper thanks to all of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, in wars past and present, to give me the liberty and freedom.
Even though I am serving in the military and will be spending this holiday away from my home and my family, I am thankful for all of my brethren -- the troops that are currently serving in harm's way. Not only are they away from their families, but they won't even have the pleasure of safety or rest this holiday weekend.
I hope you have a happy and safe holiday. After all, I think being together is one of the things people overlook. It doesn't mean as much until you can't have it.
As for me, my holiday will be just fine. I will be surrounded by a great group of guys, which I have come to love as brothers.
I will talk to you all soon. I love you.

“Tony Wojo” was killed in Al
Anbar Province , Iraq 30 Apr 09.
He was 25 years if age.
Submitted by a friend

Memorial Day 2010
Bagram Airfield attack kills U.S. contractor – Bryan Farr

By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 19, 2010; 2:29 PM

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The Taliban’s brazen assault against the heavily-fortified, city-sized Bagram Air Field on Wednesday demonstrated again the insurgents’ penchant for headline-grabbing strikes at the most potent symbols of foreign power in Afghanistan.

The attack before dawn, with gunfire, rockets, and grenades, killed one U.S. contractor and wounded nine American soldiers. The U.S. soldiers at the base responded by killing 10 insurgents, including four wearing suicide vests.

It was the second ambitious attack in as many days, and possibly a demonstration of the new offensive the Taliban promised earlier this month. As the U.S. military sends thousands of new troops to the southern city of Kandahar, the Taliban vowed to respond by targeting Afghan officials, contractors and NATO forces.

On Tuesday, a suicide car bomber targeted a U.S. convoy in Kabul, killing five U.S. troops, a Canadian and at least a dozen Afghan civilians. The attack, coupled with the death of two American troops in separate bombings, pushed the U.S. death toll past 1,000 for the nine-year Afghan war.

The attack at Bagram involved 20 to 30 insurgents and began before 4 a.m., U.S. military officials said. None of them breached the perimeter, but gun battles continued for several hours.

The Associated Press reported that the attackers wore uniforms that appeared to match those of U.S. or NATO troops. A U.S. military spokesman said this tactic “wouldn’t be uncommon,” but could not confirm it happened in this case.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for both major attacks this week. Fighting usually tapers off in the cold winter months and then accelerates in the spring and summer. American military officials have been expecting an increase in violence, both in response to their troop build-up and because of the season.

But the choice of Bagram as a target surprised many people. Insurgents tend to avoid confronting American military might head-on. The airfield, expanded from an old Soviet military base, houses thousands of U.S. troops, the headquarters of the military operation for eastern Afghanistan, and the primary U.S.-run detention center. Insurgents have fired rockets at the base in the past, but the assault was “not something that commonly happens quite in this way,” said Mst. Sgt. Tom Clementson, a U.S. military spokesman at Bagram.

“That’s a dog chasing a school bus. You don’t attack Bagram with 20 guys,” one U.S. official said. “Either they’re crazy or brave or both.” (

If I had to chose "my best Christmas", it would have to be the ones in Iraq. I attended Christmas Eve services with the military, where soldiers with weapons strapped to their legs or weapons laying nearby, sang with angelic expressions in worship and celebration of that wonderful gift, Jesus.

What was your best Christmas memory?

As you celebrate this day, have a Merry Christmas and a blessed new year!

Christmas Prayer
From Allan and Georgene Shalm (Pakistan/Afghanistan): Please pray for the Christians in Pakistan.

We do have a very serious request at this time. Yesterday on the BBC’s website an article was posted stating that the Taliban are planning to carry out attacks against Christian churches in Pakistan on Christmas Day, knowing that the churches will be absolutely packed with people celebrating together. We are asking you to please pray for a special covering over every one of our congregations, every pastor and every believer. We urgently need the Lord to send an army of angels to guard and protect not only us but the 135,000 people across the nation of Pakistan who are part of this geat family.
We believe that the same angels who hovered over the shepherds 2000 years ago in Bethlehem will be dispatched to Pakistan ! Thank you for your continued prayer support – we are depending on you.
Do feel free to pass this on to anyone you feel will be interested, and who knows how to touch God.

Have you paused recently to consider all that you have to be thankful for? It is important for each of us to make a habit of taking time to consider all the blessings God has bestowed upon each of us.

We each have gifts and abilities, and we each have experiences and knowledge that enable us to make a unique contribution in our families, churches, communities and country. Together we share an awesome responsibility and opportunity. We have the ability to impact the whole world with our prayers.

Here in the U.S. it is our Thanksgiving season. I want to take this opportunity to say I am so thankful for the blessings of God.....

Thomas Suey
International Coordinator
World Network of Prayer

Veteran's Day
Veteran's Day is observed in honor of individuals, living and dead, who served with the Armed Forced in times of peace as well as in war.

Throughout this nation's history, our military have bravely fought to defend aggressors. We can never fully repay our debt of gratitude to the more than 650,000 American service members who died in battle or the 1.4 million who were wounded. We can, however, recognize and thank the 2.5 million veterans still living.

Today, buy a meal, a cup of coffee, etc. for a veteran, approach those whose paths you cross and ask if they are a veteran. Let them know you appreciate their service past and present.

Due to yet another terrorist attack, this day cannot go by without praying for the families connected with the soldiers killed at Ft. Hood. Pray for the injured and the emotional well being of all at Ft. Hood.

Contractor Casualties of War
According to the Labor Dept, June 2009,
Private contractors killed - 1,688
Injured 37,000

Contractors in Iraq Are Hidden Casualties of War
by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica - October 6, 2009 2:23 am EDT

In April 2004, Reggie Lane was driving a fuel truck in Iraq for a defense contractor when insurgents attacked his convoy with rocket-propelled grenades, causing him numerous injuries. For most of the five years since, Lane, now 60, has spent his days in silence, cared for at the Country Gardens Adult Foster Care in Central Point, Ore. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

This story was published in the Los Angeles Times on Oct. 6, 2009.

Reporting from Central Point, Ore. – A nurse rocked him awake as pale dawn light crept into the room. "C'mon now, c'mon," the nurse murmured. "Time to get up."

Reggie Lane was once a hulking man of 260 pounds. Friends called him "Big Dad." Now, he weighed less than 200 pounds and his brain was severely damaged. He groaned angry, wordless cries.

The nurse moved fast. Two bursts of deodorant spray under each useless arm. Then he dressed Lane and used a mechanical arm to hoist him into a wheelchair.

He wheeled Big Dad down a hallway and parked the chair in a beige dining room, in front of a picture window. Outside stretched a green valley of pear trees filled with white blossoms.

Lane's head fell forward, his chin buried in his chest. His legs crossed and uncrossed involuntarily. His left index finger was rigid and pointed, as if frozen in permanent accusation.

Linda Lane and her husband Reggie Lane.
In 2004, Lane was driving a fuel truck in Iraq for a defense contractor when insurgents attacked his convoy with rocket-propelled grenades. For most of the five years since, Lane, now 60, has spent his days in silence -- a reminder of the hidden costs of relying on civilian contract workers to support the U.S. war effort.

His wife, Linda, said visiting her husband was difficult. They were childhood friends and fiercely loyal to each other. On this spring morning, she caressed his hand and told him she loved him.

He was a good man. He paid his bills. He took care of his family she said, her breathing labored from a pulmonary disease. He's a human being who fought for his country. He doesn't deserve to be thrown away.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military has depended on contract workers more than in any previous conflict -- to cook meals for troops, wash laundry, deliver supplies and protect diplomats, among other tasks. Tens of thousands of civilians have worked in the two battle zones, often facing the same dangers as U.S. troops and suffering the same kinds of injuries.

Contract workers from the U.S. have been mostly men, primarily middle-aged, many of them military veterans drawn by money, patriotism or both, according to interviews and public records. They are police officers, truck drivers, firefighters, mechanics and craftsmen, mostly from rural corners of America, especially the South.

Nearly 1,600 civilian workers -- both Americans and foreign nationals -- have died in the two war zones. Thousands more have been injured. (More than 5,200 U.S. service members have been killed and 35,000 wounded.)

Many of the civilians have come home as military veterans in all but name, sometimes with lifelong disabilities but without the support network available to returning troops.

Reggie and Linda Lane, after the attack, in this undated photo taken between April 2004 and Jan. 2005 in Houston.
There are no veterans' halls for civilian workers, no Gold Star Wives, no military hospitals. Politicians pay little attention to their problems, and the military has not publicized their contributions.

These guys are like the Vietnam vets of this generation, said Lee Frederiksen, a psychologist who worked for Mission Critical Psychological Services, a Chicago-based firm that provides counseling for war zone workers. The normal support that you would get if you were injured in the line of duty as a police officer or if you were injured in the military . . . just doesn't exist.

Herbert J. Lanese, former chief executive of DynCorp International, one of the largest employers of civilian workers in Iraq and Afghanistan, said:These are people who have given their lives in the service of our country. They are the unappreciated patriots of our country at this point in time.

Lane was born in Ventura and moved to Grants Pass, Ore., when he turned 12. He met Linda there, and the two grew up together.

After high school, Reggie enlisted in the Army and went to Vietnam. He and Linda found each other after he returned. By then, each had been married and divorced, and each had a child.

As a pair, they were inseparable. Reggie was steady, strong. Linda was energetic and outgoing. They eventually found work as a truck-driving team, steering tractor-trailers across the country.

His CB radio handle was Grizzly. Hers was Wild Cat. He loved country music and Tom Clancy novels, G. Gordon Liddy's talk show and Honda motorcycles. She loved the open road, the speed of the truck.

We went to see the big wide world driving a truck. What an adventure, Linda recalled.

But work was haphazard, and the pay was modest. Together, they made about $32,000 a year. They had a hard time keeping up with bills and twice filed for bankruptcy.

In the late 1990s, they sold their home in Oregon and moved to Montana, where land was cheaper.

In the fall of 2003, Linda heard that defense contractor KBR Inc. was hiring truck drivers to deliver fuel, food and supplies for the military in Iraq. The salary was $88,000 a year, more than they had ever earned.

We wouldn't be on easy street, Linda said, "But we wouldn't be stressed."

By November, Reggie was on his way to Iraq. He arrived during a turbulent period, with the insurgency raging. Convoys regularly came under attack. The trucks were not armored.

According to his doctors, Reggie Lane was able to communicate and interact before he left Houston in 2005 (Undated photo, taken between Apr. 2004 and Jan. 2005 in Houston).
He didn't go over there to fight a war. He went over there because [KBR] said, 'You'll have armed guards, Linda said. They promised big money. 'You'll be protected, no problem.

On April 9, 2004, Reggie Lane and a friend, Jason Hurd, rolled out of a base south of Baghdad to deliver fuel to Balad, north of the city. The convoy was outside Baghdad when gunfire rang out. Hurd saw Reggie's truck careen to the side of the road.

Hurd pulled over. A rocket-propelled grenade had shattered the windshield. Reggie was lying face-up on the shoulder of the road. His right arm was gone below the elbow. His face was covered in shrapnel wounds. He was drenched in blood.

The rest of the convoy moved ahead, apparently oblivious. Hurd fumbled with Reggie's arm, trying to apply a tourniquet. Then a group of military vehicles pulled over to help.

Soldiers helped stabilize Lane, who shuddered awake and asked for water. An Army helicopter evacuated him to a U.S. base, where he was put on an emergency flight to Germany.

Linda got the news from a military doctor. A few days later, Reggie called. He told her not to worry.

I still got one arm left to hug you with, he said.

It was the last conversation she would have with her husband.

Two days later, another military doctor in Germany called Linda, asking permission to perform an emergency tracheotomy on Reggie. A blood clot had dislodged, blocking the flow of blood to his brain.

My head is spinning. I'm trying to digest what they're telling me,Linda said.I'm deciding this long-distance by phone, and it's someone I love.

Ten days after the attack, Reggie Lane was on a flight back to the U.S., headed to a Houston hospital. KBR paid to have Linda meet her husband in Texas.

She was unprepared for the sight. A raw, red stump was all that remained of his right arm. There was a hole in his throat. She could see his intestines, which were left exposed to aid in cleaning out shrapnel. His body was swollen and purple. He was unresponsive, his pupils mere pinpoints.

Over the next nine months, Linda lived out of a hotel in downtown Houston. She became her husband's advocate, navigating a complex medical world with little guidance.

It was a lot of one foot in front of the other. I was pretty devastated,she said.

Slowly, Lane's condition improved. Toward the end of his hospital stay, he could respond to questions. He would say: Love Linda. He was trying to stand up with help.

By the time he left, he was interacting, communicating, said Dr. Sunil Kothari, a neurosurgeon who coordinated Reggie's care at the Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) Memorial Hermann in Houston, one of the country's top rehabilitation hospitals for brain injury.Near the end, he was beginning to answer questions, starting to vocalize.

In January 2005, doctors cleared Reggie for release. He was going home.

Grants Pass had a handful of nursing homes. They provided physical and speech therapy, but Linda was dissatisfied with the care. She confronted workers at one home, leading to Reggie's discharge. He returned to a hospital.

Linda was dealing with her own health problems. Her weight ballooned. She was admitted to the hospital repeatedly with breathing difficulties.

As Linda searched for a home for her husband, she got into a dispute with American International Group Inc., the insurance carrier for KBR. Linda wanted her husband close to home. She said AIG insisted that he go to a facility in Portland, where care was less expensive than in the hospital.

The Lanes struggled with their insurer to find Reggie a home. According to his lawyer, Roger Hawkins, Reggie's mental state declined after leaving Houston. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Troops injured in Iraq are guaranteed care at Veterans Affairs facilities. In contrast, contract workers depend on workers' compensation insurance paid for by the federal government under the Defense Base Act. They often must fight with insurers to get medical bills paid.

Linda hired a lawyer, and AIG relented, allowing Reggie to be placed in an adult foster care home near Grants Pass.

The lawyer, Roger Hawkins of Los Angeles, said it was the least Reggie deserved.

You look in his eyes and you see that somewhere, he realizes what is going on Hawkins said. He's sitting there with his arm missing and knowing that he's never going to get better.

AIG and KBR declined to comment on the case.

Reggie's mental state had gradually declined since he'd left Houston. Before, he spoke. Now he descended into long silences broken only by grunts.

Told of Lane's condition, Kothari, who treated him in Houston, expressed concern.

Decline is not typical, Kothari said.If someone goes to a nursing facility, if they happen not to get stimuli, it means the brain could not heal as well as it would otherwise.

Jim Gregg, operator of the foster care home where Lane was placed, said the facility was not equipped for advanced physical or speech therapy. In their home on a 4-acre farm, Gregg and his wife provided basic medical care and monitoring to half a dozen elderly patients.

It's a boring life. He just sits here,Gregg said.It's not a stimulating environment.

Gregg closed his facility earlier this year, and Lane was moved to another foster home. The total cost of Lane's care for the rest of his life could be as much as $8.9 million, according to an AIG estimate. The bill will be paid by the federal government, which reimburses insurers for combat-related claims from war zone workers.

Linda Lane died July 10. She had been hospitalized after suffering respiratory distress, family members said.

Reggie let out a wail when relatives told him the news.I had never heard anything like that before,said Bev Glasgow, who runs Lane's current foster home.

Glasgow arranged for a van to take Reggie to a memorial service for his wife. It was held in a state park alongside the Rogue River. Under the shade of scrub oak and aspen, he watched as Linda's family and friends sang and looked at old photos of the couple.

Diane Firestone, Reggie's sister, visited him shortly after Linda's death. She said the family accepted that Reggie's condition was unlikely to change. But, she said, they did not believe his sacrifices had been adequately recognized, by his company or the country.

She knelt beside her brother and asked him about the attack on his convoy.

Hey,she said. "Do you know it's been five years? It doesn't seem that long to me. Does it seem that long to you?

Reggie blinked twice, hard -- his signal for yes.


Times staff photographer Francine Orr contributed to this report. View an audio slideshow of Reggie and Linda Lane.
This story is part of our ongoing coverage of injured war zone contractors.

Mother Dorothy Turpen (left) and caregiver Bev Glasgow sit next to Reggie Lane during a memorial service for his wife, Linda, in July 2009. Linda had been hospitalized after suffering respiratory distress. Under the shade of scrub oak and aspen, Reggie watched as Linda’s family and friends sang 'Amazing Grace' and looked at old photos of the couple. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)


So here we are on September 11th. Many things have happened on this date in history. Perhaps some of you were even born or got married on this date. But I think we all carry with us a very powerful memory of September 11th, 2001.

Let's send up a prayer for all whose lives were forever tragically altered, or ended, by the terrorist attacks of that day.

And if you want, let's share our own memories of that day. What stands out the most in your mind? Where were you when you first got the news? Who were you with while you watched it unfold?

And how did you change because of it? Did those changes last?

Let's talk about it.

L-Plate Author said...
Hi Rachelle,

It's my birthday today (funny how no-one forgets it now). I don't know why but I have to watch a program about 9/11 every year, just to remind myself how lucky I am I suppose. This year I watched one about 102 minutes in video recordings as people watched the nightmare unfold. Some were in their homes, some were on the street, some were across by the river. Still makes me cry, every time I hear that whoosh as the first tower goes down.

On my wall I have a photo, taken from our national newspaper coverage, of a desk calender covered in dust, you know the block ones that you change yourself? It makes me sad that this one will never be changed again.

Tues 11 Sept. I feel a tear coming

Mel Stoke on Trent, England.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 12:40 AM
Andrew said...
How did 9/11 affect me? Whoa...OK, hang on...

I was getting ready to go to my teaching job. I had the TV on for the second hit, and my reaction was to very loudly take the Lord's name in vain.

How do you deal with a classroom full of sad and angry and scared young people? They look to you to make some sense of the senseless, and to be able to answer, "Why?"

I tried. I told them about the history of pan-Arabism, and the rise of terrorist organizations before and during Israel's War of Independence. Told them about Black September, and Hamas, and Munich, and Lockerbie.

Use enough words with enough confidence and anyone will feel better.

But the real answer was, and is, that there are monsters out there, and they don't go away when the lights come on and Mom and Dad walk into the room. These monsters are real, and the hurt they inflict has to be believed to truly be seen (to paraphrase Bono).

As for me...9/11, and the images of the ensuing wars triggered flashbacks from my past that made me turn to drugs, and to drink. I lost my marriage, and almost my life.

I turned to various Eastern Religions, to martial arts, and to keeping a loaded AK-47 with me through the night as I worked...I could only sleep in the hour after dawn, because my demons came at night.

But...something (or SomeOne?) happened. I kicked the chemicals, disposed of the AK, my wife gave me a second chance, and I became a Christian. Not all at once, and it's still a work in progress...but I stress the 'progress' part!

Maybe I'll write a book about it.

(I thought for awhile before posting this. Too personal! But it's a form of Witnessing, I guess, so, JC, this one's for You...)

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 12:46 AM
NP said...
Though I hadn't met my husband yet, so I didn't know it at the time, my father-in-law was working in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

The events of that day impacted me indirectly at the time, but it's very different for me now.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 12:52 AM
writer jim said...

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, 3AM on the button: God awoke me from sleep, and told me to go to my desk. For over 5½ hours I had continuous detailed dialogue with God about America's frightful future. Finally, God said, “TODAY will change America; turn on your TV right now.” I ran. When it came on, a news flash cut in instantly; it showed smoke billowing from one of the World Trade Center towers.

My book is titled AMERICA'S 3AM CALL. It reveals decades of events which were for the preparing of the book. In case you are interested; the following is going to be most relevant to our lives:

The United States is the most majestic, prosperous, powerful…greatest nation in the history of the world. But the U.S. will not become the first nation to mock God and get away with it.
As a nation, in recent decades, America has yielded to wrong, surrendered to evil. We have cultivated wickedness; thereby producing vast crops of sin, sin, sin. Immorality and iniquity that was severely punished a generation ago, is now thrust upon our children from birth. The laws of free speech protect those who publicly mock, sneer, and scorn about Almighty God…while the American people are ordered—it’s widespread—not to say prayers in school; not to say prayers in Jesus name at their organizational functions…and most recently; even not to have a Christmas nativity scene at their privately owned business, and not to say “Merry Christmas” while at work.
While flauntingly promoting wickedness; concurrently America has daringly pushed God out. Out of the public schools and out of the public square. Out! We have been pushing the Bible out, pushing prayer out, pushing Christian holidays out, pushing the Ten Commandments out—they were written in stone by the very finger of God; pushing the name of Jesus out—Jesus, who died for the sins of the world. We just keep pushing God out! This brash contempt of God is the most grave/consequential mistake made in U.S. history.

AMERICA'S 3AM CALL tells what is coming; and includes the specific options available to the American people.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 1:42 AM
Gwen Stewart--Singer-Scribe said...
I remember the sky here in Michigan that day: how clear and beautiful it was, and how the crickets sang that early morning. I stood on our deck, breathed the fresh scent, then went inside and turned on the TV just in time to see the second plane hit.

Later that morning, with the defensiveness only a mother can muster, I searched that sky for jets or bombs or something--thinking I would bring them down with my bare hands to save my children, then two and four.

Later that afternoon, I went outside to listen to a sky devoid of airplanes. The silence was uncanny.

Later still, I stood on the deck and cried--for America, New York, for those lost.

That night I was afraid to close my eyes and sleep, as if watching would keep us safe. Being afraid to sleep changes your perception of the world. Those changes last even when "safe" times return.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 4:14 AM
BnB Paulson said...
This tore at me. This date in history. A proud nation humbled and united under God. For a short period of time, We stopped asking that He be taken out of schools, neighborhoods and homes. We loved our neighbor and didn't take family or friends for granted.
But it was shortlived.
I sat in the truck with my new husband as we made our way to racquetball class. My mom called me on the phone and told me something was going on in New York.
I thought she was joking.
We got to the gym and walked in. The TVs all over the building were flashing the news. People stood around staring, workout towels around their necks, shock and disbelief fighting with sweat on their faces.
They canceled classes.
When the second one hit, I still didn't believe it.
It's too bad the truth hunts you out.
I pray for those families and friends, our fellow American's who were affected that day.
And I say thanks to the servicemen and women. We owe so much to them.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 4:15 AM
Janna Qualman said...
Thank you for the picture and the call to prayer. They were both touching to see.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 4:59 AM
Krista Phillips said...
I think what most struck me was the aftermath. Everyone pitching in to help. The sense of "community" that was felt all across the nation. We didn't care for the piddly stuff for about two days, maybe a few more. Everyone went to church that next Sunday. Kay, maybe not EVERYONE... but churches were busting out of the seems.

I take that as a sign that we are a nation seeking for purpose, for answers. And I think for that brief time, we understood that WE the people didn't have those answers, and weren't the sole purpose.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 5:05 AM
Catherine West said...
I was at a friend's house and we were about to begin the first bible study for the fall season. A couple of ladies were running late so we sat and chatted. Then the last person arrived, dashed into the room where we sat and told us to turn on the television. Two women had husbands who were in business in New York. We prayed as they tried to make contact with them but of course the phones were all jammed and they couldn't get through. (They were both ok). We prayed and all went our separate ways. I watched tv all day and recall thinking it was surreal, like a movie, that it couldn't possibly be happening. But it was.
Oh, and the name of the Bible Study we were supposed to start? Lord, Is It Warfare? Teach Me To Stand.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 5:45 AM
by Pegg Thomas said...
Our son was 13 and we had just started our home schooling day when a neighbor called and said, "turn on your TV!" School that day consisted of my son and I sitting and watching our world change.

I'll never forget it and neither will he. I hope and pray that the young people, now in their early 20's and in college, who witnessed this will go on to make positive, and probably difficult, changes in both our country and our world.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 6:01 AM
Andrew said...
I was on the first flight out of Austin, TX, after 9/11. There were two Arabic-looking men on board, and the flight attendants seated the largest male passengers around them. I was directly behind one of these unfortunates, on the aisle, and they were without a doubt the most unhappy passengers I have ever seen.

Unfair profiling? Sure.

Was I willing to take part? Sure.

Maybe it was the wrong thing to do, maybe I should feel guilty for helping to arbitrarily assign blame to a couple of guys who were overwhelmingly likely to be total innocents, as much as I was...

Guess God'll have to answer that one.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 6:07 AM
Jill said...
My husband and I were missionaries in Uganda on 9/11. He had just flown back to the States for meetings 12 hours before the towers were hit. My kids and I spent a week reading the papers and trying to figure out exactly what happened (early news reported that the Pentagon had been completely destroyed) and wondering if and when my husband would be able to fly back to us again.

We had encountered some dangers on the field, but it was always a comfort to know that if we had to flee our area, we could always go back to the safety of the United States. I will never forget the feeling of helplessness when I realized that the safety and security of our homeland was no more.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 6:21 AM
Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...
Standing with coworkers glaring at the TV in our office. Five month old fetus in my belly. Gorgeous cloudless crisp blue sky day. Calling my family dozens of times knowing full well no one lived in New York. Wondering if the attacks would go on for years. Seeing the wrinkled confusion and heavy burden in Katie Couric’s face as she expressed news of each tragedy. Leaving work early to go be with my husband. Crying. Not hearing or noticing an airplane in the sky for days following. Wondering what the world would be like for the baby unaware, playing octopus inside my womb. Crying.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 6:22 AM
Katy McKenna said...
So many lives changed, and so many redeemed.

At age 47 at the time, I was a non-traditional college student, hanging with 18-year-olds most days. On 9/11, I was driving to school when the first plane struck. And when the second plane hit, I was still driving, only by that time, praying a LOT.

Classes were not cancelled. The history prof said, Mark my words. Nothing will ever be the same again. The sociology prof could not stop weeping, but she got through the class. I saw her later in the restroom, and asked about her situation. "My brother is high up in the military. He's told us before that if this type of thing ever happened, he'd go under cover and we wouldn't hear from him or know his location for perhaps years...." She was grieving for the loss of her brother, who had not died, but had gone missing nevertheless.

Later, at home, I called my oldest son, age 22, who lived in a town an hour away. "Scott, please come home for a few days, just until everyone gets their bearings...." He said, "I'm OK, Mom, really. The cell phones are working here. Don't worry...."

The my daughter called me. "Do you know where Scott is?" I said, "Sure, I just talked to him on his cell phone." Back then, when I called someone on a cell, I could picture him sitting on his couch. It still hadn't connected with me that they could be anywhere!

My daughter had heard it through a short grapevine of kids: Scott and his best friend, at the time I talked to him, were on the road from Kansas City to NYC to "help people."

They made it there. They wandered the streets at Ground Zero and tried to bring comfort to those in shock. I've never been prouder of my son.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 6:25 AM
Heidi Willis said...
Thank you for this post. It seems as years go by, the remembering gets less. Here in DC this year there are almost none of the memorializings we've had in the past.

I was in Austria at the time, one day away from coming home (I thought - although that turned into 4 days). While the Austrians were very sympathetic and nice, it struck me how easily and glibbly they went on with their lives... continued to eat and talk and laugh while the carnage played out on the TVs over the bars in restaurants.

But walking through the city, I passed through the Judenplatz, the Jewish area of the city, and the building, stories high, were draped in black cloth that made the entire square dark and in mourning.

That is the image I will remember.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 6:29 AM
Sharon A. Lavy said...
For a long time after 9/11 I could not write fiction. It seemed too frivolous after such a serious event. But I now realize that we often need fiction to make sense of life.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 6:40 AM
Cassandra Frear said...
My heart and prayers are with the families of lost ones.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 6:49 AM
Rachel said...
I was a college student with a baby, waiting for my mom to come over and babysit so I could go to class.

I had the televition on, and I watched the second plane plow into the tower while I spooned Gerber's rice cereal into my baby's mouth. I had a desperate, crazy internal dialogue as the moments unfolded:

"I wouldn't have had a baby, if I thought this was how our country was going to be. I wouldn't have brought any more people into the world."

My husband had only left the military a few months before, and was recalled within hours. I was so terrified.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 7:08 AM
Matilda McCloud said...
I lived in Hoboken, New Jersey, right across the Hudson River from New York City. The World Trade Center was a ferry or train ride away and so an extended part of our neighborhood—people shopped there and worked there. It is in so many of our family photographs—kind of a lodestar. When we were driving home, we saw it in the distance and knew we were almost home. The hardest part of the day was taking my sons (11 and 15 at the time) to the waterfront, where we saw the pillar of smoke where the towers had been. We lost 57 people in Hoboken: friends, family, co-workers, neighbors. It still hurts. Every year, a beam of light shines from the Ground Zero straight to Heaven. I can see it from my backyard and I honor, remember, and pray for the people who died that day--and for their families. It did change a lot of people I knew—-they quit their meaningless jobs to do something to help people, and many other changes. I’m not certain how it changed me, except that I didn’t start writing seriously until after 9/11.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 7:18 AM
CKHB said...
Am I the first New Yorker to post in the comments?

My office at the time was in midtown Manhattan, but I was part of a group of attorneys doing document review in NJ. My train went under the WTC pretty much moments before the first plane hit. I arrived at the NJ location to see people glued to a tiny t.v. that was black & white, and full of static. But we were just over the river and could see the towers out the floor-to-ceiling windows in the back of the NJ office. We kept on the radio, and the t.v., and we saw the towers collapse as we watched through the window.

My then-boyfriend-now-husband relayed messages between myself and my parents as we confirmed everyone was safe. NY-to-NY calls wouldn't go through (too many local cell phone towers down, I guess), but my husband was out of state, and we could call him.

One of the attorneys on site that day had a boyfriend in NJ, so we stayed at his place overnight. I wanted so badly to get back to the city, but even just across the river, it couldn't be done until the next morning.

My dad was already retired, but his company had an office on the 100th floor in the South Tower. Some of his friends got out. But he went to funerals for about 3 weeks straight.

There was an earthquake in Manhattan not too long after 9/11, and that vibration was the most horrifying thing I'd ever felt. And a few months later I saw a low-flying plane disappear behind the Prudential Center Tower in Boston, and I screamed.

For months after, whenever I had a formal lunch, I went downtown, because our office asked us to spend the company money in the WTC area whenever possible. Our company also donated office space to lawyers displaced from downtown.

I wasn't going to, but I think I'm going to have to post about this on my own blog today. Dang. I'll end this (long! sorry!) comment by saying that although there was much unity and love in the wake of 9/11, not everyone showed their best side after this crisis, and that I don't think there's any grand message to learn from it. People can be evil. Life can be short. And, we already knew that.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 7:26 AM
yarnbuck said...
Where was I? From a million miles away (Tennessee)to Ground Zero in a heartbeat. My oldest daughter had decideded to go to Pace University In Manhattan. She had been in city 8 days, freshman year. She was in her dorm room, 14th floor, some 2,000 feet from the WTC when the first plane hit. I couldn't get her on her cell. I watched the news - literally with a magnifying glass on her building. Updates were sketchy. The coverage bounced from NY to DC, and my heart bounced from my throat to my stomach.

More planes - more explosions. More cell shots - no score. Anxious? Are you kidding? I asked God to give me a new language, or at least a new vocabulary to pray, knowing that I had spent all the intense words on previous requests that now seemed petty. You know how theologically dufuss it is to Cut a Deal with God? Me too. So What?

I finally spoke to her at 2:45 PM and learned she was fine - had been evacuated from the dorm to the basement of another building and got out long enough to call. My wife and I collapsed.

My daughter stayed in the saddle 5 weeks but determined that it would take most of her college life to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. She transferred to the College of Charleston, graduated, and moved back to NYC for 2 years to finish the drill. She's in Atlanta now. We'll probably talk at 2:45.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 7:58 AM
Jungle Mom said...
I was in the middle of the jungle with no news outlet at all, only shortwave radio for communication. we were hosting a missionary medical team from the states who ended up stranded, awaiting flights home. We would not see footage of the towers fall for two weeks. I wrote about it here.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 8:22 AM
Kat Harris said...
This post has been removed by the author.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 8:26 AM
Kat Harris said...
My first daughter was born less than three weeks before the Oklahoma City bombing. I spent the days loving my wonderful new baby while watching the tragic details unfold on TV. I'll never forget the image of the firefighter carrying the limp body of baby Baylee Almon away from the wreckage. It made me hold my little girl just a little bit tighter.

My second child -- my youngest daughter -- was born less than two weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Once again, I spent my maternity leave shedding tears for the strangers who lost their loved ones while I held my precious child close to my heart.

I remember thinking about how unfair the situation seemed; twice, I was blessed with new life while others were enduring their darkest hours.

I remember the fear I felt about bringing new life into such a scary world.

I learned not to take each day for granted. I learned that not everyone comes home at the end of the work day, so it's important that your kids and husband know you love them when you part ways in the morning.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 8:28 AM

1,350 Civilian Deaths
The war heroes you won't hear celebrated on Memorial Day - the 1,350 civilian contractors killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and 29,000 who have been injured there fighting for America and freedom:

Washington Post Article

Civilian Contractors
Thank you for stopping by and visiting my site.

I want to begin this by saying that I give honor to our military who have fought this present war; and much of the time with limited resources. It was an absolute privilege to have been able to serve and support our military in Iraq.

The approximately 120,000 civilians working beside the military are in roles that would have been military roles in the past. This is due to military cutbacks and military reductions - they are now contracted roles.

There are an estimated 15-20 people to support every gun. Most people envision every military person fighting their way through the streets. The reality is that only 1 in 20 actually fights. The number varies and is improving. Eventually, it may be 1 in 5 actually fighting and everything else contracted.

Yes, some are well paid, but they are doing it because they love and support their country. They are not placing themselves in harm's way just for the money.

With today being Memorial Day, I am not only saddened when contractors are killed or injured, but, also, when they seem to have been forgotten (not honored) by the public.

Please join me this Memorial Day in remembering those brave contractors and civilians who gave all in support of the U.S., not just in the current conflicts, but back at least as far as WWII.
 Al Faw Palace - Baghdad