September 11, 2001. A day I will never forget. I was barely 18 years old and serving in the United States Army. I was terrified. I was a child. A child that had sworn to protect and defend this nation, even if it cost my life.
If I’m being honest, it was the moment that we witnessed the planes crashing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that I realized how tremendous of a sacrifice I had made. I hadn’t previously thought about how monumental it is for anyone to raise their right hand and make such declarations. I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic (an excerpt from the enlistment oath).
I remember sitting in the classroom of our Advanced Individual Training waiting for class to start. The Army is never late. We were wondering what was going on. My classmates started getting called out of the classroom individually and then someone turned on the television.
We all gasped in horror.
Our classmates were being called out of the classroom because they were potentially affected by the terrorism attacks. We were all instructed to head back to our company so we could gear up in case we were needed. No one talked, but you could feel the fear in the air. We were all afraid, but we now knew what enlistment meant.
This day catapulted us into years of wars, that still haven’t ended. This day became a national day of mourning. This day set America on high alert. This day is still traumatic for many. Here we are 18 years later, and I still get tremors when I think about this day.
A day we lost so much.
A day children lost their parents and parents lost their children.
A day that forever changed us.
We don’t often give our first responders and military personnel the thanks and praise that they deserve. Tuesday, September 11, 2001, we watched as you risked your own lives in hope to save another. You went into buildings that were still burning to try to stop more destruction. I can only imagine the courage it took.
Today, I’d like to say thank you.
Thank you for your commitment, thank you for your honor, thank you for your service, and thank you for your many sacrifices. Thank you to the families of these courageous ones that would put their lives on the line to save the rest of us. Thank you to those that still commit to protect us.
For the families of the victims of that dreadful day, I know that there isn’t a monument that can be built that can replace what was lost. Please know that we are still grieving with you. We still feel for you. We are still here for you.
With Fort Jackson being one of the largest US Army basic training facilities, we have a very strong military presence in Columbia. As the world remembers this attack on America, send some positive energy for those that have sworn to protect and serve and their families.