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.
By Jesse Carr
On November 21st, 2013 three female Marines made history becoming the first women to graduate from the Marine Corps School of Infantry, Infantry Training Battalion (ITB). Known for its physically demanding and exhausting 59 day training course ITB remains the training ground for a male only MOS, the only one remaining in the Marine Corps. With these three Marines graduating from Delta Company ITB it raises the increasingly popular question, do women belong in combat? Some would say that the simple fact the three women were able to graduate one of the most rigorous infantry training schools in the world should be an automatic answer to that question. However, there are many other things that need to be considered before this question can be answered.
On September 24th, 2013 15 female Marines reported for duty to Delta Co ITB with the sole purpose of seeing if females could withstand the grueling requirements of infantry training. On November 21st 3 graduated, marking only a 20 percent passing rate. However, on December 19th ten more women graduated ITB out of 13, posting a 77 percent passing rate. When I did the math for these numbers both classes combined hailed a 52 percent passing rate. Is that enough? Does this prove that women can withstand the mental and physical demands of combat? Let’s look even further at the Marine Corps physical fitness standards. As of 2014 all-female Marines were expected to be able to do at least 3 pull-ups, but Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos was forced to delay the requirement. Fox news reports that the requirement was tested during 2013 on female recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Paris Island, and that only 45 percent were able to complete the minimum passing 3 pull-ups. According to Elaine Donelly, the president of the conservative Center for Military Readiness, the suspension of the PFT requirement “is a clear indication” that moving women into combat fighting MOS’s will not work. So which Statistic do we look at? Do we consider a 52 percent passing rate at infantry school? And if so, is that considered good? Or do we look at the inability of female Marines to perform at the same physical level of male Marines? And therefore make the judgment that women could not survive combat?
Everyone has heard the statement, “once a Marine, always a Marine.” The Marine Corps is a brotherhood, from the moment that we receive our Eagle, Globe, and Anchor until the Marine Corps ceases to exist, we will always be a part of that brotherhood. There is no discrimination between male and female, active and reserve, or veteran and retiree. As there continues to be more research done on whether or not women in combat is a viable option, men and women of the Marine Corps continue to be seen on the same level. Personally, I don’t believe that women’s bodies were made to endure the unpredictability of combat, just as men’s bodies were not made to endure the pain of childbirth. However, this is a topic that will continue to be debated, argued, and experimented with for many years to come.
By Jesse Carr
Something designed to preserve, honor, and remember the memory of a person or an event, either as a monument or a holiday... A memorial. There is no day that we can designate, no statue we could erect, or ceremony we can hold that would truly honor the memory of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have so selflessly given their lives in defense of our country. Our words will never be enough, and our money will never fill the holes in the hearts of those that held them dear, the only way that we can begin to preserve and honor those who have gone and fallen before us is through our actions.
It started nearly 250 years ago. It was nothing more than a belief, an idea, which sprouted into hope for something more. Hope for a place where sex didn't differentiate, a place where race was nothing more than an accent or a color, and a place where everyone would have an opportunity to succeed. Eventually this idea was born; it started on paper, and was ultimately forged through the blood of hundreds of thousands of men and women. They were all dedicated to the same thing, this idea, this belief and hope that we could be something great. Its a belief that puts faith in who we can be, not just who we are. A belief that is recognized through the blood of its defenders.
Over the years this belief has been preserved, from the hills of Gettysburg, to the sands of Iwo Jima, the beaches of Normandy, and most recently the streets of Baghdad and mountains of Afghanistan. Through these conflicts men and women have risen up to uphold that belief. They've rallied to uphold it for our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, and for men and women throughout the world who do not have anyone willing to stand up and defend that belief for them. Spider-man was once told that with great power comes great responsibility; obviously this was in reference to his spidey senses and ability to swing from building to building. But with great power does come great responsibility, and we have a great power. It isn't in our nuclear weapons, it isn't in our ships, it isn't in our hundreds of thousands of servicemen and women, nor even in our clandestine operations. Our great power stems from our ability to resist evil, our ability to bring about change without violence. It comes from the fact that we can inspire others to hope and strive for that belief.
Like some of you I have lost brothers and sisters to that belief and as I sit here writing this tonight many of my closest friends from the Marine Corps are deployed in combat zones, right now, defending that belief. I wish that this weekend I could kick back and relax, and I probably will enjoy a beer or two, but it will be with a heavy heart. A heart that is burdened with the sacrifices of so many who felt it was their duty to safeguard that belief. As we remember on this Memorial Day, let’s remember their families, the husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters. Always remember, and never forget.