It was the last normal day. It was the last day we’d sit in idle naivete. It was the last day a skyline would be intact. It was the last day we’d believe our borders invincible to attack. It was the last normal day.

So often on Patriot’s Day we hear the stories of what people were doing when they first heard that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. We hear what people did the next day. What we don’t hear about or even think about is what we were doing the day before. September 11, 2001 was a watershed day. It will forever be a crack in the timeline and we will forever have the before and the after. But somehow, we only remember from that morning on. I for one have no idea what I did the day before. I cannot tell you specifically what defined the last normal day. It was ordinary, forgettable apparently. I daresay not many, if any, can tell you what they were doing on the last normal day either.

What should that have taught us?

For a while, it taught us to unite, love our neighbor a little harder, hug our kids a little longer before they went out the door. For probably longer than that, it taught us to be more cautious, to be more aware of our surroundings. If we saw something, we knew to say something. For a while, anyway.

Our household was always a little different from the average American home, as is most any military family household. We were always in a heightened state of awareness about everything under the sun. We kept an eye on the news and world events, paid attention to what was going on around us while we were out and about, and practiced OpSec like it was a mantra. Post-crack-in-the-timeline we became even more vigilant as a family unit. Friends and family outside the military circle would become quite frustrated with us at times over our security practices, but for us it was imperative. Even now that MarshFox has retired and we’ve moved on from that lifestyle, that sense of vigilance has not waned. In fact, now that we live in the civilian world and not behind the gates of a military installation, I can honestly say if anything the vigilance has ratcheted up even more.

And so those are the lessons we took away from the day we watched the towers fall. Love harder, hug longer, be more cautious, take nothing for granted. But what did the last normal day teach us?

Live every day like it’s the last normal day. Leave nothing to the ordinary. Make each moment unforgettable.

I wish I could remember what I did on the last normal day. I can’t. It’s gone forever, swept away on the winds of change.

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