September 11, 2001.
I was living in southeast Georgia attending Georgia Southern University as a senior when the worst attack in our nation’s history occurred. For some reason I decided to play hooky that day, sleeping in and being generally lazy. My wife of five years, at that time, was the good, dutiful student and was attending class. During those days I usually left the radio on all night and I awoke to hearing about a plane striking the World Trade Center.
I don’t think my mind could have fathomed at the time that that plane was a large commercial jet. I naturally assumed it was some cropduster, small propeller plane and walked into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. I turned on the television and was horrified to see on the Today show that each tower had been hit.I sat down and watched a tragic scene in history unfold. My wife rushed home soon after, classes had been canceled as the full scope of the horror became realized. It seemed as though jets were falling from the sky and I could not resist an anxious glance up to the heavens thinking about what else could happen. My sister was to leave that day on a plane to go to Job Corps and I placed a frightened phone call to my mother to explain the situation. She was clueless as to the chaos happening around her in the Savannah, GA airport. I told her to find the closest television.
For three days I watched television. I watched the towers fall. I watched the people running through the streets. I watched the smoldering rubble and the rescue efforts. Most of all, I remember the smoldering rubble. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.
I also watched heroism. I watched firefighters and police officers risk their lives to save their fellow Americans from the destruction. I watched people line up at the blood banks. I watched Mayor Giuliani and President Bush stand strong in the wake of terror and in defiance of the still vague enemy. I saw the worst happen to us and saw the best of us in response.
I didn’t cry like many others did, but I felt the tears inside. My heart cried, but that soon changed. It changed to righteous fury against the enemy that struck our great nation. I was not a patriotic American at the time. I was a history major and was heavily influenced by the far-left politics of collegiate social sciences. I was a liberal. Ultra-liberal. That soon changed. I read Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky and didn’t usually feel much pride towards my country. That soon changed. It was like family, when you bicker and fight and feel general dislike to relatives, but when someone from outside strikes them or attacks them you react in defense of your family. That is how I felt. How dare these monster dare strike my country, my nation? I was indignant. I was angry. I craved revenge.
In February 2002 I dropped out of college and enlisted in the United States Army. I would like to say that patriotism was my primary reason for enlisting, but it wasn’t. Money was tight and I needed an alternate path to paying for my remaining education and mounting student loans were causing me concern, however patriotism and a desire to serve my country was a major secondary reason for my enlistment. I remember on my 22nd birthday a friend of mine bought me Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation and I remember feeling slightly offended by a statement Brokaw made in the book. He said the WWII generation was one motivated by national pride and a desire to serve their nation in a time of war. He also said that he didn’t think the current generation felt the same way and he was unsure that they would respond in such a fashion if called upon. I wanted to prove him wrong. I wanted to prove that the youth may be selfish, hedonistic, and shallow at times, but that they would rise up and defend this great nation. I’d like to think that I was right on that score.
I had changed on that day. I learned to love my country on that day. I learned what it meant to be an American on that day and, contrary to what the liberals and traitorous Democratic Party would like one to believe, this is the greatest nation in the history of mankind. My enlistment is over and the pain and terror of September 11th seems so long ago, but I will not forget nor forgive.
God bless the United States of America.