Remembering 9/11

From reader IrishEi, in the comments from this post at Michelle Malkin’s:

Trip of a Lifetime

Mom called it the “trip of a lifetime.” Given the choice between a pool in the backyard, and a two month odyssey across the United States in a pop-up camper with my nosey parents, annoying younger brother, and a loveable eighty-pound Golden Retriever prone to carsickness, it was a no-brainer: bring in the backhoe! I was outvoted three to one and the trip of a lifetime was on.

On June 18, we set out from our comfortable little home in Jersey with Dad at the helm and Mom navigating. First stop was the Big Apple, then a drive-by the Finger Lakes and across to Niagara Falls. We took a shortcut through Ontario into Michigan, then up through the Upper Peninsula and back down into Wisconsin. Next, we drove through Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana before finally taking a three-day break in Seattle to visit Uncle Bob. After a four hundred mile wide U-turn, we headed back through Oregon, then east to Idaho, Wyoming and South Dakota again. We nearly made it through Iowa in one day until big-mouthed little brother realized we missed the Effigy Mounds National Monument. After that two hundred mile side trip we headed back east through Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, and spent the last night of our journey in Pennsylvania. The trip of a lifetime ended on August 21 with a mere two weeks of summer vacation left, and no pool in sight.

School started all too soon.
“So whadja do all summer?”
“Nothin’ much—road trip.”

A week later, terrorists slammed two planes into the World Trade Center—the very place where our trip of a lifetime started—where I teased my brother for being too chicken to look over the side. Another plane plunged into the ground in Pennsylvania, not far from where we camped on the last night when I was so anxious to get home.

Like everyone else, I mourned for those who lost their lives that day; but, I also mourned for my country. The images flooded my brain: fireworks over Mt. Rushmore on the 4th of July, wild mustangs in North Dakota, the ashes of Mt. St. Helen’s, sunset over Lake Superior, the absurd Troll under the Bridge in Seattle, the wide open plains and the big sky, the awesome power of Niagara Falls, bald eagles over Snake River Canyon, mule deer and prairie dogs in South Dakota, millions of stars in Montana’s night sky, lonely Devil’s Tower, the sapphire lakes of Glacier National Park, and the moose, and elk, and bison that were everywhere, the towering Rocky Mountains, the gloomy Craters of the Moon, the massive Crazy Horse Memorial, Yellowstone’s Old Faithful, and even the Effigy Mounds.

This was the country I came to know that summer in spite of myself. It really had been the trip of a lifetime…a lifetime of knowledge packed into two short months, and a lifelong love of country burned into my heart in one terrible day.