It must have happened 7 years ago. Emily is seven years old, now, and she was just a tiny baby that day.
We had lived in Pensacola, Florida for just over 6 months. It was our first ever military station. Nathan had just entered the Air Force and was in Pensacola for a year or so of flight training. Pensacola NAS is a beautiful base with some lovely historic buildings and homes. I loved seeing all the young sailors in their white hats waving cars onto the base. At that time we would drive up to the gate in our awesome brown Dodge Grand Caravan with the gold running boards, and the gate guards would see the stickers, snap out a salute, and we'd just coast on through without stopping. Easy peasy.
Things have changed.
On September 11, 2001, we were up stairs doing school work (I was home schooling Hannah) when Nathan showed up in the middle of the day. Very unusual. He came upstairs to find us and he couldn't even speak. He ended up writing it down. I still have that little paper telling me that two buildings had been hit...
Life on base changed immediately. Getting over the bridge and onto the base took hours while each car was searched. No more cute sailors in white. Guys in camo with big guns started doing the ID checks. One day that week, we took a little hike on the base out to look at the bayou, and as we were strolling along looking for wildlife, we saw a young marine staked out, watching for intruders. That scared me.
Today, I am typing this as soldiers are gathering for PT in the field behind our home. In a few minutes they will start shouting and counting. And in a few months 75% of the soldiers on our post will be deployed to one place or another.
We have not forgotten.