Today marks a national and personal day of remembrance for me. Like everyone else I know, I can vividly remember where I was and what I was doing on the day the twin towers were attacked. I remember being confused, wondering how this could have happened as the second plane crashed into the second tower. In short, 11 years ago, I felt helpless. The months following the attack, I watched as people became “patriotic”, as they drove around with cars draped and decorated with the American flag. I was also disheartened and saddened as I continued to watch as those once clean flags became soiled, torn, and weathered.
Five years after the attack on on the twin towers, I grew passionate about getting involved with something larger than myself. It was then, on September 11th, 2006, I left for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California. Although joining the Armed Forces was one of the last things I ever wanted to do, I did it anyway. Interestingly, the five years after September 11th lead me to recognize that the reason why I wasn’t interested in joining the service was fueled by the idea that I didn’t want to be anything like my dead-beat father. Although he was in the Navy and I was enlisting into the Marine Corps, I finally decided that my service to this country was more important than the animosity I felt towards him. Interestingly enough, serving in the Marine Corps opened my eyes to the fact that I could shape myself to become who it was that I wanted to become, without fear of the outcome.
Now, eleven years after the terrorist attacks on September 11th, and six years after the day I left for the United States Marine Corps, I can proudly state that I did my part. I have no regrets about what I have done, or who I’ve become in the wake of these events. In retrospect, I feel a sense of accomplishment and an even greater sense of pride – not only of myself, but of those who also served and/or continue to serve. To my brothers and sisters that are still in arms, in Garrison or in Theater – I thank you for all of your sacrifices. We know all too well how much is sacrificed, almost daily, just by putting on the uniform.
If you take nothing out of this entry but one thing – it is that it’s important that we remember. Hopefully, it is through remembrance that we never lose sight of the fact that freedom isn’t free. It always comes at a cost. All gave some, but some gave all. Semper Fidelis.