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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Great Expectations (not about the book) (08/25/11)

TITLE: History is Always Unexpected
By Abby Kelly


I was sleeping in. Suddenly my alarm clock pierced my reverie, but Garth Brooks was cut short with “breaking news.” In delirium, I caught only snatches of the announcer’s frightened, warbled message.

“Something just crashed in to the Pentagon! At first I thought it was a bomb. It was a plane. People are flooding the streets. No one is sure yet what’s going on.” Her own voice was cut off as emergency workers forced her into the mass of people they were herding away from buildings and into triage centers.

My fiance was in the Army. He was to commission through ROTC and graduate from college in three months. Until this moment, I had expected my life as an Army wife to play out much like the life I’d grown used to in a civilian household. For years, being a soldier had not involved combat tours. Suddenly, not just my immediate world, but my hopes for the future seemed tossed into a snow globe.

I threw on neon green running shorts, a race t-shirt from last summer’s Boomer Lake 5K and grabbed my bike from against the wall of my shabby-clad apartment. Oklahoma State’s campus was only three miles away and I knew Patrick would be at the ROTC building, where he spent every waking hour that wasn’t obligated to classes or work at Red Lobster.

I burst through the doors of the old, musty building. Military science classes were housed in a tall brick building, like a fat pencil. The big screen TV was blasting at full decibels from the great room. All the boy soldiers congregated there. Most of them had played war games from the time they were ten.

In the college ROTC program or the National Guard they had learned the right way to throw a grenade, shoot an M-4, build a bridge, outsmart the enemy and navigate treacherous terrain in the dark. As I stood with the cadre behind the crowd of boys glued to the television, I wondered if they had ever expected to be real warriors.

Three months later, I stood next to Patrick just a few buildings down from the ROTC building. Col Dorsey pinned the “butter bars,” 2LT rank, on his left shoulder and I pinned it on his right lapel. We already knew that he was headed to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

That fulfilled part one of his dream. Patrick was going to be an airborne soldier with the 82nd Airborne. They were known for rapid deployments and often being the first unit on the ground. Sure enough, we married one year later, and two months after, “I do,” I sent my husband to Iraq.

I thought history was something I read in books. I thought it was a combination of fascinating stories and droll dates. I had never expected my time to be history in someone else’s school book. Suddenly, the idea of being in a book on the desk of some college-age, bride-to-be seemed overwhelming.

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This article has been read 549 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Kathy Stevens09/01/11
Wow! A very good story. You brought me into your world and I feel that I too am a part of history.
Mildred Sheldon09/02/11
I enjoyed this very much. At times I feel like part of history. Good job.
C D Swanson 09/03/11
Wow...Good job! God Bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/03/11
This story is certainly timely. You did a great job of showing me your take on that infamous day. I can't imagine all the feelings and fears that must have been overwhelming when you realized your life would forever be changed.
Linda Goergen09/08/11
So well written, reality’s slap in the face is very often quite different from our dreamed expectations. Very timely entry indeed, as we fast approach 9-11’s sad anniversary. Great job on this!