By: Jesse Carr
I was 9 years old on September 11th, 2001. I will never forget my mom quickly rushing me out of my piano lesson and taking me home. I couldn't comprehend what exactly had happened, but I knew it wasn't good. When we got home my dad was in front of the TV, sitting on the floor, tears streaming down his face. I remember looking at the TV and seeing smoke pouring out of the top portion of the North Tower. I didn't know what tower it was, but I knew it was in New York. My family sat glued to the TV for the next few moments as we watched the tragedy unfold. I was still having a hard time understanding the magnitude of what was happening, but even at that moment, I knew what I was watching would change America forever.
Even though I wasn't old enough to fully understand what was happening, September 11th, 2001 made a permanent impact on my life. Shortly there after I watched as bombs were dropped in Iraq, and we went to war for the first time in nearly a decade. I didn't know it then, but watching the tanks roll through Iraq and the statue of Saddam Hussein be pulled down was igniting a passion inside of my heart to serve my country. I can't really explain what it is about 9/11 that hits me so hard. I've never been to ground zero nor have I ever deployed to a combat zone, but there is something in my heart that makes me feel connected. It could be because I'm a red blooded American with an intense love for my country, I'm not really sure, but either way my reaction to pictures, videos, or stories of September 11th will always be the same, anguish.
On that day we lost 2,977 innocent Americans, and as of May 10th, 2014 41 percent of the total remains are unable to be identified. I will never understand what could drive a person to commit an act so abominable in nature. But, like we always have, and always will, America responded. We responded in force, laying waste to Saddam's forces in Iraq, and making Al-Qaeda virtually in operable throughout the world. Eventually America ensured that justice was served, and on May 11th, 2001 Seal Team 6 conducted a covert operation that resulted in the assassination of the man responsible for 9/11, Osama Bin Laden. To this day some people see the inconveniences of TSA, the lingering war in Afghanistan, and the recent rise of ISIS in Iraq as just that, an inconvenience. But when I look back over the last 13 years and I look over all of the inconveniences I have endured and debates over the NSA I've watched, there is really only one thing that stands out to me. I see the thousands of men and women that have given their lives in the name of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness while we've been at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is because of those sacrifices that today we live in peace, we go to work in peace, and we play with our kids in peace, without the lingering fear of another 9/11.
Having three younger siblings that either weren't born yet, or aren't old enough to remember 9/11 has opened up my eyes to the responsibility that we have now to never forget. Never forget that tragic day. Never forget the people who lost their lives, and most importantly, never forget who did this to us. The image of the collapse of the towers has been forever engraved in my mind and is something that will motivate me and inspire me for years to come. Therefore I challenge you to not allow the legacies of those sacrificed to drift away and become memories of the past, for me they will live on in my heart forever. On May 21st, 2014 the 9/11 Memorial Museum opened its doors to the public, providing a sanctuary for the memories and relics from 9/11. To this day 9/11 remains the largest attack on US soil and as we honor and remember those lost 13 years ago, it is important to remember what the beautiful red, white, and blue mean to each one of us.