Where were you?
I was in my college auditorium for an assembly. The speaker was interrupted for a couple minutes and then came back on stage. He told everyone to go home and pray. He said that the Twin Towers had been attacked by planes, there were reports of car bombs going off, the Pentagon had been attacked, and multiple planes had been hijacked. America was under attack.
All classes were cancelled that day and the next. I remember watching on television the second plane hitting the towers and the knowledge that we were a nation at war. When classes resumed, I will never forget what happened. The first class of the day at 7:30 in the middle of lecture, there came a firm knock on the door. The professor opened it, and admitted a fully uniformed officer of the United States Army. He called out three names and three of my fellow students immediately jumped to attention. The officer made a statement that they had been activated and were to report for duty at zero six hundred the following morning. He saluted. They saluted. He did an about face and walked out.
I will never forget what happened next. These three soldiers picked up their books, walked out of the class, and I never saw them again. This happened in every class I had that day.
I went home in emotional turmoil that day and told my wife (at the time) that I felt I needed to join up and go fight whoever did this. She told me that if I did, she would leave me (we had just gotten married). Instead, I started going to recruiting stations and thanking our men and women in uniform. As time went on, my patriotism grew as I saw how the embedded reporters were portraying America and our troops in an evil light.
Every action was constantly reported with a bad slant to make America look like the perpetrators of violence, similar to how they treat Israel. I spoke with more and more soldiers and did some investigating of my own. When we went into Iraq, I found many soldiers who actually uncovered WMD stockpiles. Despite numerous reports and news coverage to the contrary, I knew that America was fighting on the side of right and that we, once again, were being portrayed as the bad guys to suit a political agenda.
In 2007 I went through divorce and finally committed to joining our armed forces. I was too old to join the Marines, I was 32 and the age limit was 28, however; with an age waiver the recruiter was able to get me into Officer Candidate School (OCS). I had to prove myself physically by surpassing the physical requirements, but I made it after 6 months of hard work. I went off to Quantico and began the most difficult task of my life, becoming a Marine Officer.
After four weeks, I realized that being an officer was not my calling in life, so I informed my chain of command that I would not be accepting my commission. I finished the 13 weeks of training at OCS 197 and received a compliment from my Gunnery Sergeant and a recommendation from my Captain that I will never forget. My Gunnery Sergeant told me that he was impressed and pleased to see that I chose to finish training instead of getting out early. The words I will never forget are, “[Candidate], you don’t suck.” That is high praise from a Marine in my book! My commander called me into his office and promised a recommendation if I ever chose to accept my commission and come back.
I completed Officer Candidate School and till the day I die it will probably be one of the hardest things I ever accomplished in my life. I will always be proud of what I did and cherish, revere, and respect what the Marines taught me about life and warfare. The USMC OCS is the best leadership training in the world.
Approximately a year later, missing the brief exposure to military life, I joined the National Guard thinking that I would at least be able to deploy and support our troops for a year, and then get back to living my life the way I want. It was then that my life changed yet again for the better.
I received a Military Operation Specialty that sent me to Arizona for specialized training. It was there that I eventually found my calling teaching soldiers. Eventually, I found my soul mate who also came to Arizona due to adverse circumstances. We started dating and a couple years later we bought a house together. Today, we have two children and live a comfortable life in small town away from the bustle of big city life, with an awesome view of the mountains from our back yard. I still teach. I’m still involved with the Army and Marines on a daily basis, and every day I get to come home to a wonderful family!
I will NEVER forget 9/11. I will never forget the words “Let’s roll” from that hero aboard flight 93. I will be eternally grateful to our Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, and Sailors who bravely stand ready to defend our nation. Those men and women who were my classmates will always be remembered, as will all those who lost their lives aboard the planes, in the towers, and at the Pentagon.
9/11//2001 changed my life forever and gave me a greater appreciation for my freedoms, my countrymen, and this great nation that is such a beacon of freedom to the rest of the world, that evil everywhere seeks to destroy us. If a person’s character can be determined by who his enemies are, then the same can be said for this nation.
I thank God for my life, and yes, even the circumstances that led me here. 9/11 is a day remembered with sorrow and regret, but it is a day that forced me to re-evaluate my life and things that are important to me. It caused me to change my life and led me to where I am today. These freedoms that were enshrined in our Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776 are the right to LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. I will add one more to that list, the pursuit of all those who threaten those rights!
I will never forget September 11th, 2001. May God Bless You and may God Bless America, the land that I love!