Cpl. David Hernandez, 24 — Chicago, Illinois

I was a fourth grader in Chicago. Despite being ten years old, living in a major city we were scared we could be the next city to be hit. You could see it in everybody’s faces. We could see the Sears Tower, and my teacher would constantly be looking out the window to see if something had happened in Chicago.

The teachers tried to keep us in our studies, going over our dailies, but you could see that they were worried. They kept looking at their phones, they kept trying to get a hold of people in the transition between classes.

I have two brothers who were in the first Gulf War, and from my family’s experiences, my parents knew that something was about to happen.

September 11th gave me my first true feeling of aspiration and that was to become who I am today: a United States Marine. After seeing my brothers’ service, I knew that this was going to be my turn to answer our nation’s call.

One of the biggest things that we can take away from 9/11 is readiness. Despite us not being prepared for such a horrific incident, we had people that were ready to respond, ready to give their lives in the defense of our country.

In three years, the Marine Corps will be accepting recruits who weren’t alive when 9/11 happened. Where I work, we train to constantly be ready for when the next incident happens. It’s not about whether it will or will not happen.

We have to be ready, regardless.

Courtesy of DVIDS