“Get up! Get up! They hit the Twin Towers!” “I don’t know what that is, Mom, I don’t have to be to school for another two hours.”

I grew up in a small ranch town, out in the middle of nowhere, Nevada. Our house, along with two others, was the only one on the street. It took an hour to get to “town.” We grew up in a time where the worst thing was getting cow manure on your shoes before heading down the two-mile track to the nearest bus stop. I didn’t have to worry about people trying to kidnap me, attack me, let alone kill me. So why would someone crash two planes into these “Twin Towers” my mother cried about?

When I arrived at school that day thirteen years ago, the halls no longer seemed noisy and good-natured. They had an eerie sense throughout them. Some of my teachers and friends were crying. Some even had to leave to see if the families they had in New York were okay. Confusion crossed my brow and I still was wondering what was going on.

“The United States of America has been attacked,” my homeroom teacher announced. “Those coward scum are going to get what’s coming to them, you wait and see!”

Coward Scum? Attacked? Who would want to do this us? My teacher was a retired Army Vet who was American through and through. He hammered into our eighth grade heads that we live in the land of the free and that no one just comes in and messes with that. He went on to tell us that some of us would join the service to find these bastards that did this to us. We would lose friends, family, and maybe our own lives trying to preserve those freedoms. I’ve never been more proud to be an American than I was in that moment.

Fast forward thirteen years; ten years of service, two combat deployments, friends loved and lost, and an experience I can only pray that my daughters will come to realize is something so very few people volunteer to do fully knowing the sacrifice.

“What is Patriots Day? My teacher said to wear red, white and blue tomorrow to honor Patriot’s Day.”

I knew this day would come, and would provide the platform for sharing some of our countries history as well as my history with her.