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These words are my diary screaming out loud

Monday, September 17, 2012

What a week.

I started this post last week. I just couldn't get it finished. Its a bit disjointed, but those of you that have read my blog for a while know that I tend to do that sometimes...


This week has been an incredibly emotionally draining week, but also an incredibly exciting week. I went into it knowing it would be busy - helping out with a course at work that took me away from my desk, the book launch for In The Shadow of Greatness, a book signing, 9/11, the most reading and writing intensive course I've had in my entire masters program... But I had no idea.

Monday started out fine. Typical Monday morning, nothing special about it. I knew I was a little bit behind in my reading, but I had 4 days to get the book read that I needed to read and get the paper written that I needed to write. No problem. I stayed up a little too late watching the finale of Bachelor Pad (because who doesn't like a good train wreck?), but felt fine about the week to come.

Then Tuesday hit. The last time 9/11 was on a Tuesday was in 2001. I remember that morning being so beautiful, just a perfect, crisp, clear fall morning. Leaving for work on Tuesday morning, all I could think was wow, it was just like today. I put up a short post on Tuesday afternoon about how much I hate that day. I was happy to not be at my desk, because all of the TV stations were just replaying their broadcasts from 2001. No thank you. I'll stick to escorting and facilitating, thanks, and do my reading while I'm sitting there.

Well, it turns out that the absolute last think I wanted to read on 9/11 was a book about the guy believed to have been the brains behind 9/11. So that didn't so much happen. I think I got about 5 pages read.

I left the Pentagon to head up to the Navy Memorial for the book launch, it was great to reconnect with some classmates and see some people I hadn't seen in a long time. But it was also FAR more emotional than I had anticipated. It started with the wreath laying ceremony outside, which was pretty short, and not too bad. Then we went inside the memorial for a presentation about the USS New York, where we were treated to a slideshow of pictures from a Tiger Cruise the ship had taken from Norfolk to New York last September. On board, they had NYC firefighters and police, as well as several family members of victims. They also showed a video of several of the shipbuilders visiting the 9/11 museum with family members as they built a ship made using 70 tons of steel from the World Trade Center towers. That started the emotion - while the video was a bit of an advertisement for the shipyard, it was very well done. And the photographs were amazing, and you can see them on the Navy Memorial's website.

The book launch part of the evening went wonderfully, with great words spoken by my classmates and a fantastic answer to a less than ideal question by our illustrious class president. Once the link is up on CSPAN, I'll post it and you can guess which one I'm talking about. I knew that Matt Freeman's mother would be speaking, but I had no idea how hard her words would hit me. I lost it. It was actually kind of embarassing, but luckily my dad was there next to me to hold my hand, and a super nice lady from the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society was on the other side and gave me kleenex. Which I almost needed again at the end of the talk, when my dad prefaced his question with, as a member of the last all-male USNA class, how proud he was of me and the other women that have gone through the Academy. The talk was great, and once again I'm super proud of my classmates.

After the book talk, I had a chance to catch up with classmates, mingle a bit, and speak to both the photographer, C.R. Richardson, and Mrs. Freeman. The photographer, when she spoke, basically said that she didn't have much to add and that she had been honored to get to take the photographs, and she hoped that we all could feel the emotion that she felt as she took the photographs. I made sure to go up to her and tell her that she needn't sell herself short. She may not think she has much to add, but her art is her voice, and I absolutely felt it. I think sometimes people who have little to no connection to the military come into a situation like that and are intimidated, think that well these people are in the military, and I just take pictures. But in reality, those people contribute just as much. Those pictures, or those paintings, or those songs, or whatever they are, those things were, and still are, a lifeline, for me at least. They express feelings and emotions in a way that oftentimes I felt as though I was discouraged from expressing. They provide an outlet, a relief. I couldn't then, and can't even now, find the words to express what I wanted to say to her - and I'm sure the wine that night didn't help either. But I felt it was important to at least try.

Speaking to Mrs. Freeman... oh man. I told her a little bit about how I felt at Matt's funeral, how I had felt as though I had to hold it in there, because if the people that had been closest to him could hold it in, what gave me the right? I almost lost it again telling her that. She is an amazing woman, so strong, and I felt bad that she was the one comforting me.

Even though I was in bed by about 1030 that night and slept pretty well, I was definitely emotionally drained an I was still exhausted when I woke up on Wednesday. It took two 9 hour sleep nights this weekend to finally recover. And I'm happy to report that I got all of my schoolwork in on time, but my social life definitely suffered - I think Matt got a little bored with me :) 

The book is doing wonderfully so far, which is super exciting. The first print sold out on Amazon, and the Chief of Naval Operations added the book to his 2012 reading list. The additional stories are running a little bit behind, but that's OK - they'll be out soon. All of them will be available in the Kindle version of the book, and mine, along with one other, will actually be featured on the website. Its pretty exciting to be a part of this project - I just wish I had done more. And, like I said, its been really awesome to reconnect with some of my classmates from USNA. We're totally different people than we were 10 years ago when we graduated. Well, most of us are anyway. I'm actually looking forward to the reunion in a couple of weeks more than I was, because all of this has reminded me that even the people that I wasn't too fond of while we were at school, or even at the 5 year reunion, have changed and grown up just as I have.

I think the week of 9/11 will always be hard for our generation. We went through a lot that day, and in the days and years since. I think for me it will always feel like yesterday, but so long ago. I'm not sure that I'll ever be able to handle watching the footage from that day, or the movies about it. I haven't even been able to go to the memorial here at the Pentagon yet, but I think that I might be just about ready to do that - just not today.

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