It was exactly ten years ago today when the phone call came.
Like most of America that morning, I was sitting in front of my television, transfixed and horrified by the images playing out on the screen.
I could barely tear my eyes away from the smoke rising in the blue skies of New York City as I took the call from my son, Ryan.
A 20-year-old Marine corporal based on Hawaii, he had been roused from his barracks before dawn as the news of the attack spread. He wanted me to know he'd been called in for duty, and did not know when he'd be able to contact family again.
In the background, I could hear a young woman's voice talking of uniforms and equipment as my son and future daughter-in-law, both service members, prepared to meet the challenge of the September 11 attack on the Twin Towers.
At that moment, my feelings were indescribable--but three days later, I sat down to describe them.
The essay that follows was the result: My Child, My Home, My Country: A Marine Mom Speaks. Written on September 14, 2001, it was the cry of my heart as the mother of a United States Marine, a son who had been called to alert in response to the attacks on our country.
First published here at OrganizedHome.com, this piece took an amazing journey around the world in the weeks that followed. The essay was republished in local and regional newspapers, military newsletters and many Web sites, but my proudest moment occurred when the Marine Corps published the piece in the Marine Times.
Admittedly, I did worry a bit that the essay's spread would embarrass my son, but he took his new fame in stride. "Mom", he said, "my first sergeant called me into his office and told me that he'd seen your piece in the Marine Times--and that it made him cry!" Now, there's an accolade for any writer: making a Marine top kick cry!
Ten years have passed since that day, and many readers have asked for an update on my son. Ryan left the Marine Corps after two overseas deployments, with the rank of Staff Sergeant. He and my brilliant and beautiful daughter-in-law Elizabeth--both full-time university students--are the parents of the dual apples of this Nana's eye: my two young grandsons. Between their studies, their children, and their full slate of family activities, Ryan and Elizabeth lead busy, productive lives--and just as they did ten years ago, they shine brightly to me as our nation's hope for the future.
This morning, I woke early, and placed the American and Washington State flags in the brackets outside my front porch. I looked up at the clear, windless blue sky, and remembered those days ten years ago, when no jet trails disturbed the perfect blue.
Standing on my front porch, I thought, long and hard, of the state of our nation ten years later. In the news, aggressive and strident partisan posturing has taken the place of civil political debate. Long-standing American freedoms have eroded with each new governmental assault on our privacy, our liberties, even the sanctity of our bodies--all carried out in the name of the "War on Terrorism". At such times, it's easy to feel discouraged and anxious about the world my grandchildren will inherit.
I walked inside the house and re-read this essay. It seems to me--a Marine Mom, speaking ten years later--that it still says what needs to be said, on this day of all days.
Will we be worthy?