There were few significant events in history that were truly pivotal and that drastically altered the future. The assassination of Caesar 44 BC, the Boston Tea Party, Pearl Harbor, and September 11th all left rippling 2nd and 3rd order effects for each generation.
I joined the Marine Corps in 2000 before the scare and constant thought of terrorism. When we learned about terrorism or muslim radicals, it was prefaced around carjacking, hijacking, or some other threat that furthered their religious or political agenda. For example, the 1970 Summer Olympics, or the Iranian embassy hostage situation. Although we trained as a fighting force, it was drastically different from what it was going to rapidly evolve into.
On September 11th, 2001, a group of terrorists hijacked four planes and flew two of them into the World Trade Center towers. Much like Pearl Harbor attack that catapulted us into our participation in WWII, the attack set a course of events that has changed the lives of an entire generation of men, for better and for worse. We are much stronger, smarter, and more capable than before, however, these events do not come without scars. All day I have read stories about where people were during that day and how many of them were in high school. For the community that I come from and the men that we currently support, it is slightly different. I remember listening to the events unfold in the company office on the radio and not understanding what was happening. I now look back on that day with a heavy heart because now I have the weight of a life forever changed by that day. By the time my daughter was four years old, I had been deployed four times. My wrist is heavy from the weight of the brothers that I have lost over the last 14 years. We lost a total of 2,996 lives on that day but this is would not be the end of it. To date, the United States has lost 6,775 in both OIF and OEF. That's 9,751 Americans from the events of one day, not to include the 22 veterans a day that are committing suicide. We now have an entire generation that answered the call and took the fight to our enemies. That struggle came with a price: an abundance of broken bodies, broken families, depression, loneliness, surviving guilt, anger, and sleepless nights. (Numbers current as of 2016)
When you read Never Forget, there are many of us that will truly never forget because it's the foundation of who we are and where we are. Don't take this the wrong way, we are not weak. We are stronger, smarter, and more united than ever before. The generation that was affected by that day will be forever ready to stand against any enemy and we are united together more than ever. Many organizations would not exist without the events of that day and the events of the past 17 years. We stood then, and we continue to stand now, ready to answer the call whether abroad or here at home.
When I’ve seen colleagues, friends, and family recently there were consistent comments of “You look like you’re half the man you were!”
My typical response to this is, “Half the man on the outside, but twice the man on the inside.” And to this, I usually get quizzical looks.
Most people who see the obvious external weight loss and transformation have no idea of how much more of a transformation occurred within the mind of the person.