Somehow I have a subscription to Time Magazine. This would be only slightly odd except for the fact that I am the kind of person that avoids the news with the belief that it breeds fear and wreaks havoc, so I would guess that their purpose would be completely lost on me. All the same, when my mom asked me if she could throw away the recent issue with the best pictures of 2009, I hesitated. I had flipped through the magazine and stopped on a picture of a group of Marines sleeping in self-made holes in some desolate part of Afghanistan. This, I told her, is a part of my history I can’t get rid of.
My boyfriend is a Marine currently serving in Afghanistan. I speak to him when he is able to call from a satellite phone that will cut off with the slightest bit of interference, and wait out the times when I know I won’t be hearing his voice anytime soon. I send him packages with the things that I take for granted and the pictures of all the things that he has missed since he has been away. Absentmindedly I will scan the articles on my MSN homepage, praying that the media hasn’t heard some news that I haven’t.
When September 11 happened at the beginning of my 9th grade year, I felt as unconnected to the nation’s sorrow and fear as one could possibly feel. I didn’t know what the Twin Towers were, and I couldn’t begin to fathom the concept of terrorism. Perhaps looking back on it now I’m not giving my adolescent self enough credit, but I also had no reason before that point to know otherwise. After all, I could remember the all mighty sense of pride that was conveyed to us when we learned to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, so thinking of America as anything but untouchable was outside my own personal experience. The September 11 attacks, to me, were a tragedy that happened on the other side of the country, to other people’s families. I could never fathom the profound and far reaching affect they would have on my life years down the road.
Fast forward eight years later and I know the war on terror more intimately then most people would care to. I have said goodbyes so heart-wrenching I thought I would never recover- and had reunions that I couldn’t even manage to breathe through. I have learned the cost of war so intimately that I could never imagine asking anyone else to pay the price.
So when I have children and they begin to learn about these wars that will seem completely unconnected to their own existence, instead of showing them textbooks with numbers and facts I will show them the dried flowers I received when my love missed my college graduation, or the cards I sent with the hope that I could brighten his day. After all, this war is more then the strategic move of a nation, it is a piece of our own personal history.