I had just started my freshmen year of high school when 9-11 occurred. I had just taken a vacation to the East Coast with my family and we had visited the Twin Towers for the first (and last) time in late August. It was a bit freaky actually because when we were up there my little sister saw the jets landing at EWR/JFK and asked how the planes avoided hitting the buildings, and I remember my mom telling her that the chances of that happening were almost impossible. Fast forward to the present... I am now in graduate school and dating a captain in an Army battalion (think Hurt Locker, but a little less Hollywood, and that's what his job is like) who has been deployed in Iraq for several months now. I work a night shift and was asleep when the news came out about bin Laden being killed, and I was woken up by text messages from my family asking if I had heard anything. I practically fell out of bed trying to get to the TV to see what was going on, and I wondered what my boyfriend was doing at that moment.
When I listened to Obama's speech and then watched the footage of people celebrating outside the White House and in Times Square, I had the most difficult mix of reactions. Part of me didn't believe what was happening; most of my adult life has been defined by the events of 9/11 and the ongoing debate and struggles around the war in Iraq. Another part of me was proud that our military had done such an amazing job, and I wished I could be with my boyfriend to celebrate as I knew he would be doing with his men. Then the most surprising reaction of all: I started crying. In just a few seconds of watching the news, it hit me that the retaliation for this might re-ignite the violence in Iraq to its former levels and I began to fear for my boyfriend's safety and the safety of his men. I have been experiencing the last few days in a sort of limbo, not knowing what I am supposed to be feeling right now. I am proud of my soldier and our troops, but also terrified of what they might have to go through as a result of their success.
Horwitz is a first year graduate student at Seattle University studying theology and ministry. She was 14 years old on 9/11.
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