I was born into an American subculture that consists of millions, yet is truly understood by few on the outside. I was born the daughter of a U.S. Army soldier. When I was a young child, my life was largely unaffected by this fact. I lived in snowy little town in Northern Minnesota, where my dad was assigned to work as a recruiter. Life there was small and simple; ordinary, yet good.

I remember sitting on the floor of my first-grade classroom, my eyes intent on the woman in the well-worn rocking chair before me, my heart clinging to each word she spoke. I was captivated by the book our teacher read to us; the world of the story the only one that existed in that moment to my 6-year-old mind — my first experience with the wonderful escape stories can bring.

Alarms began to sound over the school’s intercom system, alerting us that the school was under lockdown and commanding us to take shelter. The other students and I poured into the hallways, oblivious to the severity of the situation. Teachers rushed to each other for information, talking in almost hysterics. I was able to catch a few words here and there: Towers. Plane crash. Terrorists.

My teacher set off running. “My sister, I need to call her,” she said to one of the other teachers. “She lives in New York.” As we passed the front office on the way to the gymnasium. I saw through the glass windows people gathered around a television, their faces terror-stricken. A person or two sunk to the ground form the gravity of the news. The rest of that school day is faint in my memory. In the days to come, talk of a coming war frightened me. I remember whispering to my dad one night as he came to tuck me in, “Are you going to have to leave to go fight?” He was silent for a few moments before he said, “I hope not, Alli.”

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