My Lawyer Husband Enlisted After 9/11
I had just finished teaching my first class of the day on September 11, 2001, when a colleague pulled me into the office. There was a television set up broadcasting the news that the planes had just flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. I watched the towers collapse.
Staff and students spent the day waiting for phone calls. I taught in a commuter community and nearly all of us had relatives or friends in Manhattan. My husband was at his second day of work, close to the World Trade Center. My heart sunk when I realized I didn't know which subway line he took to get to his office. When he finally called my cell phone, hours later, my class cheered.
My husband had walked north to our Midtown apartment, pushed on by clouds of ash and smoke. He stayed in the apartment just long enough to change his clothes. He told me, "I have to go back to see if I can help." Eventually, triage workers found a place for him on Chelsea Piers, assisting the medical professionals.
Since no traffic was allowed into Manhattan, I spent the evening at my parents' house in the suburbs, worried about my husband, desperately wishing he would just stay safe, while being so proud of his sense of duty that compelled him to walk towards danger, instead of away from it.
Days later, watching the news at a pub, we both knew what he would do next. He was going to join the military. I always knew this had been on his mind throughout college and law school. Some part of me had hoped life had just carried him in another direction. He was nearing the age cut-off for Officer Candidate School and had a career in the law. After the crucible of September 11, it was obvious that he still felt duty and honor bound to serve his country as a soldier.
Before he actually left for Basic Training, he tore his ACL. He opted for surgery and attacked physical therapy with determination just so he could still qualify for military service. Nothing was going to stop him.
Throughout his training, he never held anything back. He turned his body into a giant bruise to get over the wall of an obstacle course. He broke his foot and kept on running. And he persevered until he was commissioned as an officer in the United States Army.
September 11 was just the start of my days of waiting by the phone, terrified of what news the day would bring. Every day of my husband's deployment to Iraq felt like I was holding my breath. I knew, though, that in leading his men and bringing them all back home safely, he was doing his duty as a citizen soldier.