As we approach the anniversary of 9/11, one of the worst days in American history, we reflect on all the time that has passed. Many of the young men and women in boot camp right now were not even alive on September 11th, 2001. It is crazy to think that it has been 19 years since that day. A lot of people that served, remember exactly where they where on the day that changed everything. Here is my story.
I was in high school when it happened. I remember there being a fuss as I approached my English classroom. Something bad had happened. As a result, students were crowded around the television, suspended in shock. This particular teacher had always been a shrewd man. However, we were dumbfounded when he told us to turn the television off. “This will be on the news for the next 10 years, there’s learning to be done now,” he remarked. We begrudgingly followed his instructions and took our seats.
A moment later, our principle entered the room, and told the teacher to turn the television on. He objected briefly, but she was not to be trifled with. He gave a nod to the closest student, who jumped up and hit the power button. She marched off to the next classroom, clearly understanding the importance of this day. The rest of that hour was a blur, and we were all besides ourselves while the horror unfolded. I had family living in NYC at the time, but this was before teenagers had cell phones. I had no way of knowing if they were OK. Thankfully, I found out later they were safe. Eventually, the bell rang, and I made my way to the nest class.
The next teacher was a young man, and an Army reservist. The class murmured about this fact until everyone felt scared for him. Surely, this attack meant military action right? He taught science, and was well liked. He assured us that he would be OK, and not to worry about him. I have no idea what ever became of the young man who put on a brave face for us. As a 2nd Lieutenant, he was much closer to our age than the ancient educator that instructed my previous class. Funny enough, now I’m around the same age the English teacher was then. I thought he was so old at the time, mid 30’s being decades away for me.
The class considered and debated the dangers for our troops in an other attack. The mood was extremely tense and uncertain. Nevertheless, a classmate and I both discussed how this certainly meant military action for us. These acts of aggression would not stand. He was a year older than me, thus he left for boot camp the following summer.
Feeling impatient, I dropped out of high school on my 18th birthday and took my General Education Diploma test. The day I received it in the mail, I took the bus to the recruiter’s office. I served 12 years as an Infantry Marine, and deployed 5 times. I was on my 3rd deployment when Osama Bin Laden was killed on a raid conducted by a team of pilots and special forces. The events of 9/11 forever changed my life, as well as the lives of every other American. As we remember those we lost, we pause to ponder a simple, yet profound question. Where were you on 9/11?