Facing my own mortality at age nineteen, with a fast growing brain stem tumor, I, the ‘Colonels Daughter’ was admitted to Philadelphia Naval Hospital. Though I was inpatient for three weeks pending surgery I was allowed to return home for 24 hours ‘to say good-bye’ in the event I died during the removal of it. I was spontaneously, miraculously healed in Ocean City MD, returning to the hospital, ‘tumor free’ and regaining function previously disintegrating. The experience transformed me -- creating a passion for life, gratitude, honor, and giving, the ‘one day at a time consciousness’, that encourages making the most of the time you have left.
With that in mind, long after my first glimpse, another hospital emergency room, in February 2001, injuries sustained by a vehicle crashing into my body, while I was assisting my team and others to safety – evacuation in a snowstorm. Released from the hospital, for nine months of recovery and physical therapy, walking with a cane, but was determined on September 2nd, to be medically permanently disabled and diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress. Ironically –I am a trained and qualified Certified Emergency Response Team (CERT) mental health triage, emergency, disaster, and terrorism responder.
I am also a Chaplain with prophetic voice, and had been since September 11, 1998, preparing many for ‘Direction in an Age of Confusion’, documented the last twenty years, that can fill in the nature of my faith-based missions.
As I watched the ‘Today’ Show, on 9/11, I witnessed Katie Couric’s expression, interruption of live broadcast ‘breaking news’ and saw the first billows of smoke pour of the first Trade Tower. In the moments, my mind and soul revisited a corporate team building exercise in Valley Forge PA, only 72 hours prior to that day. We built telecommunications towers out of layers of baked cake, plastic straws, toothpicks and string, highest built, best strength standing, shortest time completion of task--an eerie, provoking view and deep resonance within me.
Then I witnessed the second plane strike the second tower, knew without a doubt we were under terrorism attack. My immediate responses to that continued horrific display of ongoing filming, was grief for the lost, resolve, and sureness that my son was preparing for deployment—somewhere. No time to waste, because the flight in Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon airstrike fast-tracked and proved my concerns; I realized I needed to report for duty, too.
The mission is always first. Save as many as you can. Leave no one behind. Comfort and aid the wounded survivors, their families, 1st Responders as well as tertiary support for fire-fighters, EMT’s, law enforcement, and potential fourth --‘at risk’ backlash population targets.
As a Chaplain and counselor, I trained for critical incident mental health ‘triage’ I’d been recruited for President Bush’s Citizens Corps volunteer team, upon his inauguration, and accepted. Soon, I was ‘boots on the ground’, in Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, and then Pennsylvania. The terrorist attacks included many victims of all races, cultures, faith and doctrines over a wide geographic area. While many other caregivers extended specific services across country.
72 Hours? If we had, even 72 hours of time to spend our last hours, making choices, what would our priorities be? We never know how much time we have left-- if anything, let 9/11, Pearl Harbor, Oklahoma City bombing, and School Shootings-- acts of terrorism and violence remind you what’s important and what’s not. Start now, today, living and loving your fullest life in gratitude, destiny, purpose, and mission.
In Memorial of those who died on 9/11, remembering their families today, we will continue to honor your grief & loss, innocent Civilians; our thoughts are with you, always.
We may, or may not change the world, but we will change our corner in it.
We are Many – We are One Nation, Under God, Indivisible – America.