No one will ever forget where they were on September 11, 2001. I was in 8th grade, sitting in the cafeteria, when the principal told the school what had happened. We were too young to fully grasp what terrorism was, but we knew that someone had come to our country and tried to kill people.
Little did I know, thousands of people would end up dying before the day was over. These terrorists were radicals who were hell-bent on destroying the country that I lived in. Once I got home, my parents explained the situation more in depth to me. I did a lot of growing up that day.
Four years later, as a 17 year old high school graduate, I knew what I wanted to do. I walked into a US Army recruiting office and asked “What can I do to help?” The man sitting across the desk responded with something that I will never forget, “Son, if you want to help us, we can find something for you to do.” That’s all I needed to hear.
Almost 7 years to the exact date of walking into that office, I took my uniform off for the last time. I had been blessed with the opportunity to serve with the infantry, combat engineers, and military intelligence. I had the eye-opening experience of serving on Active Duty and in the Reserves. The Army took me around the world, let me see some amazing places, and helped me mature in ways I could have never imagined.
As I went through my military career, I tried my best to uphold the standard. I felt that it was my responsibility to all the men and women who had put the same uniform on before me. Each of us had joined for a different reason. Some of us out of necessity, others out of pure patriotism. I never wanted to forget why I joined. For 7 years, I carried two things in the pocket of my uniform at all times. The first was a miniature American flag that was folded into a nice, presentable triangle. The second was more emotional for me.
The second item was a laminated picture that I carried in my breast pocket. The picture is of a man being carried from the rubble of the World Trade Center on September 11th. This picture still gets me emotional today. They could knock down the towers and kill innocent people, but they could never break the will of the American people. If the American people could be that resilient on 9/11, those of us in uniform owed it to the people to do our best to keep the fight on foreign soil. It wasn’t always pretty, we weren’t perfect, but we got the job done.
On the 11th anniversary of that horrible day, I can only think of one thing. No matter how bad it gets, this country will always respond with strength and courage. Take the time to remember the innocent people who were killed on 9/11, remember the soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the last 11 years, and remember the families who no longer have their loved ones. To this day, this flag still hangs on my wall: