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Thoughts After the Tragedy in Chattanooga

By Liz Brown

I had a chilling thought during last weekend's SEAL reunion.

It was Saturday. Rob and I were crammed in among hundreds of Navy and NSW families on the metal bleachers set up for CAPEX. We were surrounded by kids — kids munching on hot dogs and hamburgers, kids sucking down soda, kids pulling on their dad's arms and wrapped around their mom's necks.

As I stared up into the crisp blue sky to watch planes streak over our heads, it hit me: 'This could be a target.'

With the Chattanooga shooting just two days old, I admit I was sensitive. I am still sensitive. All it takes is a Google search to find out where American bases — where Defense Department policy prohibits anyone other than MPs and law enforcement to carry weapons — are located. And event calendars can be found online too. Look up "2015 East Coast SEAL reunion" and you'll know exactly where we were and what we were doing on Saturday.

Somewhere around 1300 on that day, I was looking down the bleachers at a little girl. She was two rows in front of me, her back to the demonstration. Her index fingers stopped up her ears against the sound of .50 caliber machine guns firing blanks from the turrets of up-armored Humvees.

Somebody's innocent daughter. A girl too young to understand that even when a fight starts overseas, blows can be landed here, at home.

'What if someone crashed a plane into this beach?' I thought. 'What if someone walked in and sprayed bullets into these bleachers?'

I wanted to throw my arms around that girl and clutch her to my chest. I wanted to dig a hole in the sand and hide her in it. I found myself wishing Rob could have carried his 1911 on base. I was wishing that all of his brothers who have had over a decade of special operations training could have been armed.

But I guess that's just me being sensitive.

Nothing worse than a sunburn happened to us because nothing usually does; terrorist attacks in this country are as rare as they are horrific. The thing is, any one of the five service members killed in Chattanooga — Marine Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, Lance Cpl. Squire K. Wells, Marines Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Marines Sgt. Carson Holmqist, and Navy Petty Officer Randall Smith — might have taken comfort in that fact the day before he was murdered.

That's the thought that really scares me.