Marine Corps Veteran Reflects on September 11th and the Lives Lost Since

As the twentieth anniversary of the attack on September 11th nears, it’s fitting that we take some time to reflect on the last twenty years: where we’ve been, where we are, and where we think…

As the twentieth anniversary of the attack on September 11th nears, it’s fitting that we take some time to reflect on the last twenty years: where we’ve been, where we are, and where we think these events will take us in the future. I knew I wanted to serve our country in the armed forces from an early age in life, but it wasn’t until that September morning in 2001, sitting in American History class, that I knew for sure in what capacity I’d be serving.

In one way or another, we were all moved to action. For some that may have been praying and thinking of those who lost family or friends in the attack, and for others that may have been a call to join our Armed Forces. Sitting in that American history class, I knew that someday there would be children sitting in the same classroom learning about how brave men and women, from all walks of life, set aside other opportunities to serve our country and do their part to keep us free. Not only would they be signing up to keep us free, but they would be committing to keep people they may never meet, in some far away country, a little bit safer.

Many times over the last few years since leaving active duty I’ve been asked, “Do you think the lives lost and the money spent was even worth it?” Given recent events in Afghanistan, I’ve been asked this question with increased frequency, and every time I answer the same way. I always answer yes. To be fair, I think it is a good question and a question worth asking. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that question with malicious intent, and I have never felt that the question dishonored brothers that I’ve lost.

I answer yes because I believe that if we have the capacity to help others we should. I believe that regardless of ethnicity, race, religion, or beliefs, at a fundamental level, we should help others when we have the capacity to do so. Let us not forget that had it not been for help from the French and others during a hard fought eight years during our own Revolutionary War with Great Britain, we may not even have the freedom to help others the way we do now. Americans should and will continue to answer the call when needed.

Make no mistake about it, the United States has its own problems that we need to continue working through, but we are still the greatest and freest country in the world. Like siblings, we will always disagree and fight amongst ourselves about many different issues, but when we need to, I’m confident we will unite and stand together just like we did in the days following September 11th, 2001. What a beautiful sight it was to see flags flying from homes and businesses that may never have had an American flag flying before. We were united, proud, and ready to defend what we loved.

Very recently there was an attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport in which we lost over a dozen service members. Hours before the attack, warnings were issued that an attack was imminent, and that those who could leave the area should. Yet those service members who were wounded and killed were unwavering in their commitment to “support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic and that they would bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

It doesn’t make the grieving process any easier, but I know that these men and women who gave their lives, along with the brothers that I’ve lost, would do it a thousand times over, or they would have never answered the call to begin with. I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to serve my fellow citizens of this great country, but I’m also thankful that I was able to help keep people I may never meet, in some far off country, just a little bit safer. As we pass through the twentieth anniversary of the attacks on September 11th, take a minute to reflect on how you responded when you heard about the attacks, where it’s brought you, and where you think it will take you in the future.