It's hard to believe it was twenty one years ago, when tears still well up at the thought of the horrific events that transpired on that beautiful, sunny September morning as if they happened just yesterday. I was just starting to get my feet wet as a reporter at the local NBC affiliate where Mondays and Tuesdays were my days off. On this particular Tuesday I opted to forego the gym to take a rare morning to sleep in. It was my mother's call that woke me. "Are you watching," she asked with panic. She thought I would have already been called into work. Within minutes, I was.
To date, it was the only day that I was truly scared of my assignment - heading to the Atlantic City International Airport to cover the local angle of the highest security level that was now put in place across the country. At the time we didn't now if there were three targets or ten. Could we be one of the them? The rest of the day was a blur, but I can still feel the deep emotions connected to those events as if they just happened.
In the days following 9-11, aside from the immense sadness of such a horrendous tragedy, I remember the one bright spot - the overwhelming sense of solidarity and American pride. Patriotic t-shirts were seen everywhere you went and flags were proudly affixed to store fronts and houses, and even automobiles. No one was sure how we were going to get through this, but what we did know is that we would be figuring it out together. A sense of pride came from knowing that our military was in full force trying to catch the bad guys who did this.
The attacks of 9-11 brought about a surge of eagerness from men and women who wanted to step up and protect a country that suddenly felt vulnerable. More people enlisted in the military in the 12 months following the September 11th attacks than they did in any of the years since. The enemies ten or twenty years ago may not be the same ones we have today, but the reasoning behind signing up for such an enormous responsibility is still the same ... fighting the bad guys to protect the freedoms that we are privileged to have as Americans.
Sadly, when we're not reminded of the daily battles that our military members face, we often forget that each and every day, more than a million men and women are serving in various capacities to see that America remains the land of the free and the home of the brave.
The song below was inspired by one of those brave men who was sent out on his 4th tour of duty when I penned these words. Thankfully, he was able to come home to his beautiful wife and three kids, but so many are not.
As we reflect on the tragedies of 9-11, I would encourage you to take time to remember not only those who perished on that dark day, but also those who signed up to run head first into battle to avenge those losses and protect the country we hold so dear. Unlike times in the past, there is no draft to push our citizens into war, they choose to do so of their own accord.
God bless all the men and women who have, and continue to serve; God bless all the families of those serving in the military, especially those with soldiers who never return; and God bless this beautiful country we call home. #GodBlessAmerica