I spent the majority of my summer in Washington, DC as part of Campus Crusade for Christ's (Cru) DC Internship Project. The goal was to intern in our nation's capital and reach out to other interns in the city.
I had landed an internship with the Christian Coalition of America. Their original plans for me involved working with public relations or something in that vein, but I ended up working with their lobbiest. I was a political science major with a minor in journalism at the time (I later switched it to a minor in English because I couldn't commit such a huge amount of time to something that was just a minor). So the lobbiest snatched me up, and I worked hard on issues all summer long, along with another intern, Kim. We would research the issues, attend meetings with congressmen, senators, and other lobbiests on the hot topics of the summer, and then write position letters, talking points, and press releases. We also worked with grass roots lobbying efforts.
I don't know what the best part of my summer was: Developing my worldview as a Christian, experiencing lifestyle evangelism firsthand, or deepening my walk and dependency upon the Lord. Meeting incredible politicians was just icing on the cake, compared to reaching the world for Christ. Sailing on the Potomac, singing and listening to a friend play guitar while our feet hung off the Lincoln Memorial, and feeling like I was walking in a postcard had nothing on introducing people to the God who saves.
Visiting with Congressman Jim McCrery (R-LA)
So with the summer under my belt and a renewed focus on my purpose in life, I started my junior year. I was nineteen, almost twenty, and big things would be happening this year. Big things like a wedding proposal, engagement, and our wedding.
On September 11, 2011, I sat through one of my favorite professor's chem class, laughing inwardly at the way that Dr. Upali pronounced "kinetic energy," which actually sounded like "Kennedy Kennedy" in his Sri Lankan accent.
Afterwards, I traipsed across campus, passing up Adams Dorm, where my good friend Laura & I shared a room. Instead, I made my way to the Student Center to grab a cup of coffee from my future husband, who served up espresso at Java City.
As soon as I walked into the Student Center, I knew something was wrong. The room was packed but silent. Everyone stared at the televisions. Damian, who would become my fiance in less than a month, filled me in on the details. Two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center. We stood in silence as we watched the towers fall.
As a political science major, it was pretty clear what was going on. Bin Laden had not taken the credit yet, but I mentioned his name to Damian immediately. In one of my poli. sci. classes, probably International Relations, we had read all about his declaration of jihad. While the rest of the country believed President Bush was in an undisclosed location, we received word that he had landed at Barksdale Airforce Base, just an hour away from us. A student's parent worked there, and she announced the president's location to every person in the Student Center.
I had no other classes that day, and at some point that morning, I headed back to my dorm, calling my mom and crying. I was especially upset once the Pentagon was attacked. There were so many rumors and threats to the rest of DC that I was concerned about all the people I had met that summer. Just five weeks before, I had been living in that city, in a student apartment at George Washington University. Now I was safe at home in Louisiana, but like everyone else, I was terrified for my country. My mom and I stayed on the phone and watched the news together for hours.
I remember thinking that surely classes would be cancelled. There was no way they actually expected us to study when we were all glued to FoxNews & CNN. I still think we would've all gotten a lot more studying done in college if there was no such thing as 24 hour news stations, especially since the crazy election of 2000 and 9/11 both happened while I was in college. Late that night, I somehow managed to finish my assignment for Constitutional Law I and discovered the next day that yes, the professors did expect us to complete our assignments.
The next weeks were a blur. Friends' boyfriends were called out with the National Guard and everyone became incredibly patriotic. I still think the freedom fries thing was uncalled for. Remember the anthrax scares? One of my coworkers at CCA e-mailed me a stunning picture of DC, taken from their office. Just blocks from the capital, we had an amazing view of DC. In his photo, the city was beautiful, but lights were on in senate buildings, which were being searched for anthrax.
Ten years later, I've graduated college, become a teacher, completed grad school and become a mom. My life has completely changed. I don't watch the news very often and I can no longer recognize congressmen and senators within seconds of seeing their faces on TV, much less tell you their stances on all the important issues. Instead of swimming in Shakespeare, electoral college maps, and 15 page papers, I spend my time chasing kids, meal planning, and researching the latest guidelines regarding solid foods and car seats.
I try to stay up on current events, but I'm a little embarrased about my lack of knowledge in the political realm. But I remember 9/11. It's our generation's Kennedy Assasination. I remember every detail of that day, and I remember the sick feeling we all carried with us. We all remember. We always will.
Where were you that day?
I'm linking up with NOBH.