As a United States Army soldier for twenty years, I have many memories of standing at attention and rendering a crisp salute to the American flag while the words to the pledge of allegiance silently scrolled through my head. “Our nation. Liberty and justice for all.” Those phrases also come to mind when I think about my reaction to the horrific events of 9/11/2001.
The morning of 9/11/2001, I was getting ready for work when my phone rang. As I brought the phone to my ear, all I could hear was someone screaming, “They bombed us! The ******* BOMBED US!”
An adrenalin rush propelled me to the TV, and I gasped as I saw the devastating scene of dark smoke bellowing out of a gaping hole in a tall building. Reading the scrolling news banner at the bottom of the screen, I realized it was the World Trade Center, and visions of my brother who lived in nearby New Jersey flashed quickly through my mind.
I felt disbelief, and then anger as the news coverage continued and the word terrorist became embedded in my vocabulary.
When another plane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington D.C., I felt like my heart had been trampled. This was the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense. How could it be attacked like this? My dad had served in the Air Force for 26 years, and I was born at Walter Reed Army Hospital in D.C. Many of my relatives in the D.C. area, and I worried about their whereabouts and safety.
Only after these first reactions, did my military mindset kick in as I contemplated the sad loss of so many lives. As the week unfolded, my sense of unity and pride in the nation grew. I met civilians who responded to the terrorist attacks by enlisting, and I felt that if I could, I would enlist again.
The camaraderie and spirit de corps of coming together to help each other regardless of background or heritage runs strong through my veins. I wanted to be part of the military presence in the Middle East during the war and somehow help bring down Osama bin Laden. I did not want us as Americans to give in and cower; I wanted us to seek and destroy.
Our freedom and our way of life was attacked; I supported the decision to fight anywhere in the world for freedom from terrorism. Every day on social media and on TV, we viewed scenes from Operation Enduring Freedom as airstrikes began in Afghanistan.
I watched in awe at the power and preciseness of our military. During the aftermath, I felt that the nation began to show more support of veterans as people witnessed President Bush telling us on TV that we would not tolerate terrorism.
The continued coverage of military deployments for the Persian Gulf War also brought the military back into the nation’s living rooms.
I was proud of our military then, and I still am. As a retired U.S. Army First Sergeant with twenty years served, I support our men and women in uniform in their mission here at home in America and abroad.
The terrible events of 9/11 changed the world. In September 2017, the anniversary footage is just as hard to watch as it was that fateful morning in 2001, but it is a remembrance of the victims and justifies out military efforts in foreign countries.
The U. S. armed forces defend against potential threats; they train with, as well as teach, multinational troops. We support our allies and expect their assistance in missions around the world.
Foreign nation-building and aiding in other countries’ civil wars has been the American way for a long time, but maybe we should focus on an armed force which is zeroed in on our own security and nation. Some of you may think that Washington should not provide foreign charity and military training and that we should focus instead on advancing America.
No matter your thoughts on military deployments, we need to stand up as a united people and stand for liberty and justice for all.