The day began like any other, breakfast with Daddy, seeing him off to work, the rest of us scurrying to get ready for school. It was a gorgeous autumn day with a bright blue sky. I was rounding up children and attempting to get started on school work when TopDad called to say "Turn on the news (radio, as we didn't have television reception) we've been attacked." I turned on NPR and listened, with my heart in my throat, to the unbelievable, even unimaginable, narrated live. My mind raced in a dozen directions thinking what would happen if furthers attacks occurred. We lived just south of a Marine Corps base and had often heard the artillery practice through our open windows. Would the base be attacked? What if the power went out? Did I have enough supplies? Would there be terrorists on the ground? Would TopDad make it home safe? And on and on.
I do not remember feeling panicked, just extremely sad that lives had been lost and those left behind didn't understand the Plan of Salvation, or have the blessing of knowing that their family was "forever." My only immediate concern was having enough water. We lived in the country and depended on a well serviced by an electric pump, which meant that if the power was interrupted we would be without water. When TopDad returned home we discussed the concern and decided that it was probably safe enough for me and PW, age ten, to go to Sam's Club for our monthly exchange of empty six gallon bottles for full ones. We kept twelve bottles on hand and when six were empty would go fill up again. (The well water was great for everything but drinking; it tasted awful to us so we used bottled water to drink and cook with.) PW and I got in the van and headed north for a quick trip. The roads and stores were eerily empty and we made it in record time.
At home, I knew I had enough food supplies to last for months, and I had read enough pioneer stories, memoirs and reminiscences, as well as 'how to' books to know how to make do for just about everything else.
We gathered the children around and I reminded them that we are led by a prophet; that this wasn't the end of the world, but rather a continuation of the war begun in heaven. A war of hatred and violence and rebellion. We prayed for protection and safety as well as for the comfort and peace of those who had lost loved ones.
I remember being angry at the newscasters who kept saying "those who gave their lives" as if they had done so willingly. I wanted them to say "those whose lives were taken". Because that was the truth, their lives were taken deliberately, abruptly, without warning, without negotiation. The only ones who gave their lives willingly were: first the terrorists and second the police, firemen and heros inside the buildings who helped others at the cost of their own lives.
I was so grateful at the time, and now ten years later, that we didn't have television. We listened to the radio and heard descriptions but did not see the terrifying images until much later. I was so grateful to be able to gather our young children around to read from the Book of Mormon to understand what causes people to make war on others. We talked about following the prophet, how he will always lead us to safety and how if we are obedient and following the Savior, that it won't matter if we die or live. If we die, we will be received in heaven by the Savior and we will be fine; If we live he will continue to watch over us and lead us.
Ten years later I have new tender feelings. At the Air Force Basic Training graduation ceremony for our daughter the commanding officer repeatedly expressed gratitude to the parents and spouses for allowing and encouraging their loved one to volunteer to serve their country especially during a time of war. I teared up and said to my husband "I don't like being reminded of that." We are in a time of war, in fact, from now until the Savior returns we will be in a time of war. This war is not for land or riches but for liberties and freedoms to choose. Satan wants us in bondage, forced to "be good." Jesus Christ allows us to choose for ourself, proving ourselves whether we will be obedient or not.
I am so grateful for liberty, for prosperity, for freedoms. I'm so grateful for a loving Father in Heaven and a prophet on earth. I'm so grateful for all of my blessings. The world changed that fateful day. Our belief in our country was strengthened.