Week #1: Tania Winston

The first time I remember media having an impact on my life was on September 11, 2001. I was 21 years old, living in Clarksville, TN, and my husband was deployed to Kosovo. I had stopped in to check on my mom early in the morning. She was drinking her cup of coffee, and I was doing my stretches for my first attempt at a run around the neighborhood. As she turned on the TV, the first image we saw was of the smoke coming from the first Twin Tower. We continued watching, hoping it was a movie playing, until the second plane came into view and struck the second Tower. I had cried off and on during the day, as images on the news showed the aftermath and those poor trapped people who had tried to escape by jumping out the windows to their deaths.
It was at this moment when I realized what the future would be for my husband and our newly formed family. He was an Infantryman, and a soldier. He would inevitably be deploying for war, not for a peacekeeping mission. It was not as if I didn’t know the role of the military in our country, I had grown up with it my entire life. My father was a veteran, and we had always lived next to an Army base. He had deployed once in his career to Honduras in the 80s when I was about seven or eight years old. A few years later, during Desert Storm, my father was assigned to stay back at the base while his unit left from Germany to go to Kuwait. I had never experienced the fear and consequences of war on a personal level, such as the dangers to someone in my family or in my circle of friends, until September 11th. I had a rose-colored view of the world through child-sized glasses.
Another time in my life where media made a significant impact was through the use of email, messenger, and webcams. Having experienced the back and forth of letters from one country to another, or a one to two minute phone call full of static and dead air, I was more than happy at finally being able to have a better connection to my husband through the internet. No longer did I have to wait two weeks for a letter, or stay at home so I wouldn’t miss his call. My husband’s second deployment to Iraq from Fort Wainwright in 2005, I was pregnant. Though he did make it to our son’s birth on his mid-tour leave, he did miss almost the entire pregnancy and the first 9 months of our son’s life. Through messenger and the use of the webcam, he was able to see my belly grow and our son grow. Though it can never take the place of being physically present, this media helped ease the disappointment of his absence.
Every deployment the medium of internet has made me thankful, because I often will think back to times when it wasn’t available or even invented yet. I appreciate and feel empathy for the families and veterans of the World Wars, Vietnam, and Korea. I often would imagine what it was like for those families; the wait for news, for a voice on the line, or for a letter already months old. Their soldiers came home to children already grown, heard news months too late, and had to decipher words and voices through static, delays, and echoes on the phone lines. My husband has seen our children grow, watched their faces light up as he hears their laughs, and knows of family news the same day it happens, all because of internet.
These are only two instances where media played a significance in my life, but for me they are the two most important. The first changed my naïve view of the world, it was the start on my road to adulthood. The second allowed me to feel some happiness at a time of great stress. I wouldn’t be the only one seeing our children grow, he could experience it as well.