Where were you? Remembering 9/11/2001.
“Where were you when the world stopped turning, on that September day?” Many of us know the words to that Alan Jackson song. I remember being in soils lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a senior student in agronomy and crop protection. We left class early after a classmate came in asking us if we heard the news. I remember huddling around the lounge TV in Burr Hall with numerous other students watching the footage the remainder of the day. I remember talking to my best friend, Chris, via phone that night about what it all meant. Much of our conversation held silence as we tried to comprehend the sadness for the families who lost loved ones, the patriotism and love for our country, and the anger we had at those who dared to destroy our freedoms. We discussed what we could do such as give blood. We prayed for the families and rescue workers. I remember selling balloons for the Agronomy Club outside Memorial Stadium the Saturday game after 9/11….and hearing the patriotism from the crowd as a unified 70,000+ sang the Star Spangled Banner-I only wish I could’ve been in the stands at the moment to have experienced that as well. Chris and I weren’t dating yet but he would become my husband-and little did I know that 10 years later, he would be serving our Country in Afghanistan.
Chris and I have always been very patriotic but for some reason, little things seem to mean so much more to me now being a military wife. I don’t think of myself as emotional, but a good rendition of the singing of the Star Spangled Banner or driving down streets lined with flags will bring tears to my eyes.
This September 11 will again be one I will never forget with my husband overseas. In some ways, it’s kind of neat as he’s on a mission to help the farmers in Afghanistan become more sustainable. It’s also memorable for me as God has allowed so many details to come together through the years in order for me to be his Unit’s point of contact for obtaining agricultural information from UNL Extension. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to help these soldiers…in a small part to show them how much I appreciate what they’re doing for us. I feel so blessed to work for the Extension system and with a great team of Extension faculty who are committed to this cause-one in which the mission is to provide unbiased, research-based information to the people….not only in our State but throughout the World. At a time when Extension systems are being cut across the country, other countries see the value of extending information beyond the Universities where information is generated and getting it out to the people to help them improve their lives and sustainability. That’s what our Nebraska National Guard soldiers including Clay County’s Ashley Koehler from Harvard and my husband on the Agribusiness Development Team are doing in Afghanistan. They are mentoring local Extension people, setting up research and demonstration farms, teaching classes in poultry and bee production, basic veterinary care, and much regarding crops and irrigation in order to benefit the people and ultimately improve their lives. That’s what UNL Extension still does today; while it is not the Extension of long ago, it is the Extension that is continually changing in order to adapt to clientele needs. More of us are using social media to reach a global audience. More of us are specialized as our clientele are becoming more educated and want to obtain information on a deeper level. The mission remains the same-to provide unbiased, research-based information to the people. Our borders have expanded, though. With the internet, information can be obtained world-wide and with so much information being generated from so many sources, it’s important for Extension to be utilizing tools such as the Web and social media in order to reach a broader audience and for our information to be seen by more people as a reliable source of information.
So this September 11 means a great deal to me as a military wife and as an Extension Educator working with our soldiers. This ADT2 Team has been gone for 3 months now and one of our UNL Extension Educators, Vaughn Hammond, has joined them to aid in teaching and mentoring Afghan Extension Educators. For the coming months, I will provide updates on their experiences and what they are doing as it’s not only interesting, but it’s important to hear the good things our soldiers are doing.
9-11-2001 to 2011…may we never forget. As I reflect, I’m saying a prayer for the families who lost loved ones that day, for the families who have lost soldiers defending our freedom, and for our soldiers currently serving and their families back home. Please post your comments of where you were that day or what September 11 means to you!