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Remembering 9/11, finding hope

Jessica Meyle and her son, Robert, born on May 13, 2002—just barely eight months after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Ms. Meyle was a public affairs specialist in the TRICARE Management Activity, Communications and Customer Service division and still supports the Defense Health Agency today. Robert just started his first year in high school. Jessica Meyle and her son, Robert, born on May 13, 2002 — just barely eight months after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Ms. Meyle was a public affairs specialist in the TRICARE Management Activity, Communications and Customer Service division and still supports the Defense Health Agency today. Robert just started his first year in high school.

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“You’re pregnant,” my doctor exclaimed with an encouraging smile across his face.

I slowly sat, not even sure if a chair was beneath me, and stared speechlessly with confusion. How, in the midst of so much tragedy, could something so wonderful be true?

I left, walking through waiting room of the Woodbridge Family Health Clinic on Sept. 12, 2001 looking at the solemn faces of veterans, military families and service members waiting to be seen. We were all still numb from the horrific events that occurred just 24 hours before.

Most of us can remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when the first airplane plunged into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. We all have our story. I was in my office at the TRICARE Management Activity in the Skyline offices, just a few miles from the Pentagon.

Sept. 11, 2001 started the same as any other Tuesday of any other week. The sky was clear and the air was just starting to get crisp. I started my work day at commuter lot picking up “slugs” for the morning drive. 

“This is a hoax—there’s no way this is really happening.” These were my first thoughts when I learned of the first plane. 

After that, a group of us gathered in the conference room and watched the rest unfold. We stared in disbelief as the towers collapsed, not even realizing how close the next threat would be.

Jessica and Robert, pictured together on Sept. 10, 2016.Jessica and Robert, pictured together on Sept. 10, 2016.

I remember seeing a low-flying plane just above the top of our building—but even now it’s hard to believe that’s what I saw.

We all knew someone at the Pentagon—a friend, a neighbor a co-worker. I thought fleetingly of the people I dropped off just a couple hours earlier. The sonic boom of the fighter jets scrambling to the scene made our offices shudder. The sound was like nothing I ever heard before.

I can’t stop the tears whenever I think of 9/11, the lives that were lost and everything that changed. It affected all of us in some way. But, every time I think of 9/11, also remember the day after and the hope my son’s new life gave me.

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