By Sharon B. Siepel
“We’re going on a real airplane,” squealed
my two girls as they tried to buckle their seat belts, lower their tray
tables, and look out on the tarmac all at once. Giddiness mixed with
the fear of the unknown played over their eyes.
“Is this thing really going to blast-off?” asked one.
Wanting to reassure them, I turned to the flight attendant and asked
if they could visit the cockpit and meet the pilot, just as I had on
my first flight many moons ago.
“Oh, we don’t do that any more –not since 9/11,”
she replied. It was to become the mantra of our family vacation.
We landed in Denver, home of three of my siblings. The last time we
had visited we had one child, now we had four. Since early spring, I
had looked forward to this reunion. As we walked from the airplane to
the terminal, I recalled the sweetness of being greeted at the airport
by exuberant relatives. The shower of hugs and shy hellos of people
you rarely saw reaffirmed that you were loved outside the four walls
of your immediate family. The world beyond suddenly became much less
We entered the emotionless, stark, stainless steel terminal. Strangers
that refused to make eye contact, shoved past in order to get somewhere
else. This is how my children would remember the airport. I mentioned
the difference to my husband. “Well, you know, since 9/11. . .”
“Let’s visit the Air Force Academy,” I suggested
My sister’s face turned down. “Can’t really see
much anymore. Most of the campus has been locked down since 9/11.”
“Okay, then let’s go to the U.S. Mint,” I said.
My sister just stared back at me. “Don’t tell me you can’t
tour there either.”
“No, they still have tours. It is just that you need to make
reservations three to four weeks in advance,” she said.
“When did they start doing that?” I asked, even though
I could have guessed the answer.
Some people say that the United States entered the War on Terror for
power, ego or oil. Have we forgotten some of the simple freedoms that
we used to enjoy before that terrible day, September 11, 2001? Do we,
as citizens of these United States of America truly understand what
our lives will look like if we do not conquer the evil that desires
to eliminate all of our freedom?
Above, I have mentioned small things; access inside an airplane, airport
or national treasure. It might not seem like much, but this past week
it added up for my family. Can you imagine what else we could lose if
9/11 were allowed to repeat itself?
At one of the Colorado tourist attractions we were able to visit,
we were poignantly reminded that there are those who are willing to
risk their lives to ensure that terror never strikes our homeland again
and our freedoms are not diminished further. From pine branches and
fence rails at the Flying W Ranch hang hundreds of yellow streamers.
Either family or friends of someone serving in Iraq or Afghanistan lovingly
hung each one. Some bear a personal message; all of them bear a name.
“Is Matt’s here?” my thirteen-year-old son asked.
“I don’t know if anyone from Clermont County, Ohio has
made it out this far,” I answered.
My son gave me that piercing gaze that only a teenager would dare
to give an adult. Even though we refer to Matt Maupin on a first name
basis, we have never met the young man or his family. Yet Matt is remembered
regularly in bedtime prayers at our house. I walked to the ranch office
and asked for a streamer and pen. “Matt Maupin –captured
in Iraq—Batavia, OH,” I wrote.I handed the ribbon to my
son, who found a prominent place to tie it. “This way, they won’t
miss it,” he said.
Every morning, the staff of the Flying W Ranch walks through the golden
forest of waving names and offers personal prayers for those men and
women and their families. It is a task they do not take lightly. And
neither should we. For our military are not warring over politics or
for the benefit of our economy. Rather they have placed themselves in
harms way in order to make sure it is freedom, not fear that reigns
over our country.
When did my son start caring so much about those who serve to protect
and fight for us? Since the morning he watched nearly three thousand
fellow citizens die at the hands of terrorists dedicated to destruction
Sharon Siepel is a freelance writer from Goshen, OH. This article
first appeared as a letter to the editor in the Community Press North
Clermont on August 4, 2004.
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.