As the month of September comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on the events of September 11, 2001. So many things changed for America that day. Over a period of two hours, most of us watched as the World Trade Towers were turned into a pile of steel and burning debris, a major section of the Pentagon was reduced to rubble, and American Airlines Flight 93 plummeted to the earth. America was in a state of shock; most people were glued to their televisions or listened to their radios as the events unfolded. Every one of us remembers what we were doing during that horrific time, and I, like others, often reflect back on that day to remind myself who we are fighting and why.

This day unified America, though sadly, only for a short period of time. Some were motivated to join the military to answer the call of duty, or were inspired by the bravery of our New York City firefighters, police officers, and emergency service personnel and join their ranks. There were many of us who had to answer all of the questions of our children – those innocent faces who asked, “Why?”. Our world changed forever.

Our country was rocked to the core that clear, sunny morning and I felt our loss deeply. That cowardly attack was an attack on my heart and soul. Those who died that day were my countrymen, my brothers and sisters – every one of them. Each of us experienced that day a different way, but what was amazing to me is that despite all of our differences, we stood strong and united as Americans. This is my story of that day.

I deployed overseas in March of 2001. This deployment began like most of our other SEAL deployments, saying goodbye to those we love, grabbing our kit, and taking the long flight over to the Mediterranean. Our mission, officially called Foreign Internal Defense or FID, was to support the host nations in a noncombat role by supporting the foreign Special Operations Forces personnel. This consisted of working with and training our foreign host counterparts; learning valuable skills from each other. This mission took me to many places including Spain, France, Morocco, Italy, and Gibraltar.