I remember the day the Twin Towers came down in New York City. I would learn later that the Valedictorian of my California high school class was on the top floor, speaking at a charity luncheon fundraiser for women. My son was a film student at NYU, and he had left me a message approximately one hour before the attacks, telling me how rainy and stormy it had been the night before, but they'd had a successful party anyway, "Today it is a beautiful, blue, cloudless New York Day." Those words stuck in my throat as I watched the planes hit the towers over and over again all day. I was terrified until I found out he was safe.
Another member of my graduating class would die in a terrorist bombing in Algeria at the U.N. office there. His wife had set up a school for girls, risking her life to do so. He told me at our reunion that he carried, "A little bit of California with me," back to Algeria, his home. He had brought his entire family to the reunion in order to meet the students of the high school he attended as a foreign exchange student.
As the awful choking soot and smoke began to settle on 9-11, I knew in my heart that something new had begun. We were entering a time when non-military men and women in this country, innocents, would become casualties of this insane fanaticism sweeping across much of the world. When I visited the site, it was difficult when I realized that the tree branches hanging above my head with some kind of brown moss and metal crumpled fruit was the evidence of pantyhose and metal mini blinds from the offices that perished. Instead of just targeting the fighting man and woman, the civilian population was now going to be attacked. This was a new experience for us in the United States.
But as I got my edits back and and uploaded the book, I understood that stories are usually based on events that happen in real life, even though the romance and the characters are make believe. And so my story is set against the backdrop of the unfortunate reality that military men, women and their families might become targets. The love story occurs while the terror is unfolding.
I'm so happy that American Sniper is out and that it is a tremendous hit. It does tell the story about our brave Navy SEALs, the heroes I love to write about, and their precious families. The character of the men who will not quit was underscored in such a powerfully moving way for me.
Every new tragedy or event inspires me to continue to tell the stories of these guys, and why we should honor them, perhaps listen to their advice and warnings. The world is changing, whether we want it to be so or not. Thank goodness we have these guys, and all the other brave military men and women, who have our backs, and have that unrelenting calling to keep us all safe.
As I've said many times before, the way we can honor and pay them back is to enjoy what we have every day, to live our lives to the fullest, to enjoy every minute of our taste of freedom. Life is fragile, but it is also so very sweet.
Life is one fool thing after another.
Love is two fool things after each other.