Copyright 2015 Chris Smith All rights reserved.
"On September 14, 2001, the President signed Executive Order 13223, copy attached, ordering the Ready Reserve of the Armed Forces to active duty for a period of not more than 24 months to respond to the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States. The Reservists will provide port operations, medical support, engineer support, general civil support, and homeland defense. I fully support the President's action and call on each of you to show your support for it as well. I expect you to make these employees available for active duty, unless their absence would jeopardize national security.
Everyone is being asked to make sacrifices in response to the attack on America to ensure the security of our citizens and America's vital resources, its cherished landmarks, and institutions. I expect that staff shortages will occur; however, we all have to pull together to make up for employee absences."
John Ashcroft (1942-)
U.S. Attorney General
The events of September 11, 2001 had rippled through so many lives. It would be impossible to catalog. A deep groove had been left in its wake. The day had changed an entire country, its citizens, and left an unmistakable impression on the whole world.
A year after, in 2002, my family started to feel the pressure. The odds were not in our favor of my Dad, a U.S. Army Reservist, being left alone by the revamped military machine. Rather than wait in a state of constant turmoil of what may or may not happen to him, he volunteered. They offered him two years of Active Duty. We accepted the offer. It avoided him being sent to Iraq but it sealed the fate of our business being shut down.
It was a blow to us to be sure. We could play "Oh Poor Us" but it wouldn't change the reality. All you can do is take the hits from life, stay focused on your Dreams, and keep moving forward.
What else was there?
I was scheduled to help Mom start moving the boxes inside the Main House on Parcel B. We had stacked them in front of the sliding glass door. The rains were coming for the next two days. So we needed to get everything we could inside and make sure anything left outside was covered with a tarp.
I was exhausted. I could stay in bed for days, and not move my body at all. I'd have all my food brought to me, only get up for bathroom breaks, and maybe a shower if I felt really funky. It wasn't my current reality but oh how one could dream.
I went down to the Main House about 12:30 p.m. Mom and I worked for over two hours. By the time we finished we had moved over half of the boxes inside. But we hadn't put a dent in the loaded trailer waiting outside. I didn't want to tackle that until Dad got home from Vegas.
I was still feeling momentary hits of the panic. It seemed to come at me in a rush of sensations. I'd feel flooded out of the blue with heat. Then my brain would recognize what was going on and I would settle myself back down.
I had some half-crazed person living inside me pushing the "Panic Button" for kicks every now and again. It was a gentle reminder that they still had the power to bring me to my knees if they so desired. Though at least now, my body wasn't reacting as strongly as before. I didn't like the feelings. I was scared what would happen if I plummeted down that damn hole again. I wasn't sure I could survive another attack. I wasn't sure I wanted to survive it given the circumstances.
Mom was scheduled to pick Dad up from the airport in the late afternoon. I was curious how it had gone in Las Vegas. I had given him some input the day before he left. But no matter what input I gave Dad, he would do what he wanted. He always did. I wouldn't be consulted about it even though we'd worked together for most of my life. That's just the way he rolled.
After a brief lunch, more like a nibble really given my current lack of desire to eat, I did some chores. Ah the simplicity of chores. I wanted any moment I could, to forget, each and every fucking day. I wanted to lose myself and pretend I wasn't getting new scars on my tired soul.
When Dad got home they went over to the A-Frame to get some last things. Then they came back over to start moving the rest of the boxes and anything else that was outside Glass House and Main House compound. I started on my walk and stopped by to see how they were doing. I discovered they weren't finished getting everything inside or covered and the rain had already started.
So I went walked back to my place, the Cabin, got in my funky-moving-boxes clothing and went back down to help them move. Luckily for us, the rain was coming off and on in light showers. We worked together for about an hour.
That night I called my best friend Viv to wish her a Happy Birthday. She told me she had gotten a plane ticket as a gift from her family, and she was heading to Europe. She and I had talked about taking a trip together for years and years.
I was so happy she was going! But sad too, because I knew I didn't have the money to go with her. Part of me just wanted to the chance to escape with her and forget. And oh yeah, get a break from moving. I chose not to tell her what was happening to us. I didn't want to dampen her enthusiasm about her trip or her birthday.
Sometimes it's best to not share. Sometimes it's best to keep silent and hold the secret, alone.
"Small firms (fewer than 100 employees) were more affected than larger firms. And not surprisingly, longer [military] activations had larger impacts on a firm's sales than shorter call-ups."
Hope, Christman, & Mackin
U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy
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