Yahoo! is asking Americans how September 11 changed them. Below is an account from a reader.
For 22 years, Sept. 11 meant a celebration at our house. My older brother, Erich Hans was born to Army Captain Ralph Taeger and his blushing bride nine months and three days after their honeymoon. I was born a mere 15 months later. My younger brother -- 3 1/2 years after me. So on this day he got to have the TV -- whatever he wanted to watch, he got his favorite cereal, and got to pick the pizza toppings for dinner. It meant sleepovers and presents. It meant new skateboard parts and new clothes.
On March 25, 2000, Erich Hans was killed in a drunk driving accident. He was 22. He was being deployed to Bosnia in two weeks. He was the only one in his Army National Guard Unit to volunteer. He wanted to serve his country. He had found his mission in life -- finish college and then enlist full time.
Sept, 11 2001 -- it started off like the one before 00 in tears. I woke up from a sleep that I had hoped would continue for years. I got dressed. I went to school. I would have skipped class but I had to go to work right after. I got to school and there was a "classes canceled" sign on the door. Odd. Figures, I could have slept in. I got in line at the bus station and took the bus to work -- I would have walked but I was emotionally drained from crying all morning already. The speaker on the bus was talking about the U Of U classes being canceled -- all of them. "Odd. What the heck is going on?" I thought to myself. I looked around and everybody was silent. I got to work and all the cooks and servers were sitting in front of the TV. Tears streaming down their face. Finally, "What is going on?" They all turned to me and in broken English a cook said, "New York. Two Planes. Death everywhere." I looked at the TV and didn't look away until three hours after my shift ended.
Ten years after 9/11 and 11 years after my brother died. How could a day have such a strong range of emotions. I pray for the families that lost their loved ones on this day, but I celebrate the birth of a brother. I call my parents every year and ask how they are doing. The answer never changes: "We miss him." I now light a candle with my two daughters and sing "Happy Birthday" to their Uncle. I volunteer now with M.A.D.D to help prevent deaths from drunk driving.
I know that if he had been alive for 9/11 he would have been one of the first to volunteer and help his country.
- Army Captain Ralph Taeger