“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.
“Thirteen years ago today, the Twin Towers in New York City were attacked by Coward Scum. They flew two planes into these towers and killed thousands of people. Today is to honor all those people who were in those buildings, as well as everyone who aided in the rescue and preservation of the Twin Towers. This is why your dad and I are Soldiers. So when people do horrible things to our country we can go out and find them and make sure that they don’t ever do anything like that again.”
“So you fight Coward Scum?” she asked
“Something like that.” I sighed.
As I dropped her off, I gave her a big hug and told her to hold her head high, be proud to be an American, and that today was a very important day. She smiled and walked into school. As I walked back to my car I couldn’t help but pause and remember the last ten years that I gave to the Army. The friends lost, the months away, and the moment I raised my right hand to volunteer and serve this great nation. I would do it all over again fully knowing what to expect.
And now that my time in the military has come to an end, I still feel the same sense of pride for my country as I did when I was a small farm kid thirteen years ago today. I can only hope and do my best to instill this sense of pride into my daughters, who will only grow up hearing the stories of why today means so much to all of America.
God bless every American today, because in one way or another we are all affected by this day and will continue to be.
(Featured Image Courtesy: DVIDS. U.S. Airmen assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing take reenlistment oath during a Patriot’s Day ceremony at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Sept. 11, 2014. Airmen participated in a Patriot’s Day Retreat and reenlistment ceremony Sept. 11, 2014. Patriot’s Day is an annual observance to remember those who were injured or died during the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez/Released)