Her world will always be different than the one I grew up in. I had Viet Nam and the moon landing, Woodstock, Kent State, the cold war, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. These events shaped my childhood and young adult vision of our world and gave me a sense of how dark and how light our existence can be. Even through the scariest of those times, even with the threat of nuclear war, there always seemed to be light straining through and a sense of some security. As sense that our country will be here forever and will always be protected. It is different for my children.
Since the day the twin towers fell...since the day a plane tore a gaping hole in the side of the Pentagon, our seat of military intelligence...since the day a band of brave Americans accepted their fate and changed the fate of the nation by steering a hijacked plane straight into the ground instead of our nation's capital, our children have grown up in the shadow of a new kind of terrorism. A new kind of war. A new kind of nakedness.
The sense of vulnerability that was generated that day may never leave us. Perhaps it shouldn't. Perhaps it is that sense of exposure that reminds us how precious our freedom and our lives really are. It is easy to become complacent when you live in a country that celebrates the individual and promises to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is easy to take for granted the everyday necessities that come so easily to most of us. We might remember that there are still people out there, our brothers and sisters, who might not have enough food or a place to live but always assume they will forever have a right to it. That day bound us together in grief and in wonder. It reminded us that freedom is not an easy thing to define or to hold on to.
Even though she was an infant when it all came apart, my girl will forever be shaped by what followed. And this is the indelible image she will carry with her and share with her children: