Yesterday, I told about how things at work changed on September 11, 2001.
When I got home that day, things changed, too.
We had moved back to the Atlanta area a few months before, and we were renting a friend’s house until we decided where we wanted to buy. We hadn’t personalized this house very much. But when I got home that day, the first thing I did was put up a flag pole on the front porch, and fly an American flag. I left the porch light on to illuminate it at night.
When we moved into our new home a few months later, I installed a spotlight to shine on the flag. It flies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I’ve replaced it three times in 10 years, and only one flag has been worn enough to warrant disposal. I’ve kept one flag, and I’ve given the others to the local Boy Scout troop.
I also fly a flag from my mailbox to honor my brother Michael, who serves in the US Army. I started doing that when he enlisted 19 years ago. These smaller flags only last about 9 months on the mailbox before I have to replace them. I keep the best of the old flags to fly in my yard on national holidays, like in the picture above.
(I don’t know if my brother reads this blog, but I’m going to give away a secret – when my brother retires from the Army in 6 years, I’m going to box up all the old flags I’ve been flying and send them to him. I’ll tell you more about him at a future time.)
Does this mean I’ve become more patriotic since September 11? I don’t think so. I think I’ve stopped taking that patriotism for granted. I’m not a covert patriot now, I am overt.
I’ve also made changes to how I look at personal security. I now carry a gun just about everywhere, not just “when I think I might need it.” Like most people, my concept of “when I might need it” changed on September 11.
Do I worry about terrorist attacks now, after September 11, and Mumbai, and the other attacks since then? I don’t worry about them or change what I do because of them, per se. I know it sounds corny, but if I change how I live my life, then the terrorists have won. And I know that’s not true.
Maybe it’s just being 10 years older. I know I am 10 years wiser.