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"Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?"


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Given recent events, I feel that this thread is especially relevant.  An entire generation of Americans (and the citizens of our allied nations) was affected by the events of 9/11, and the fall of Afghanistan will probably go down in history as an example of failed American intervention not unlike the fall of South Vietnam.  I'll finally be going home next year, after twenty-plus years of military service.  My home is no longer where I grew up, but rather a place the Army stationed me, a place where I recruited young men and women while the war in Iraq drew to a close and Afghanistan flared up.  


Twenty years ago I was a young road technician working for a material handling equipment company.  On September 10th I was suddenly let go, and on the 11th I was job-seeking online when I saw some comments about the towers.  I turned around and my mother-in-law was watching the news show video footage of the event.  Nevertheless, I continued my job search, though I did check in on a few old friends to discuss the attacks.  A little over a month later I was signing my Army contract, fulfilling a dream I'd had since I was a kid...a dream previously hindered by past mistakes.


In the intervening 20 years, I've lost a lot of friends, both military and civilian.  My unit and I invaded Iraq together and saw the side of war I always wanted to see.  Ten years later, my unit went to Afghanistan, where they placed me as an Operations NCO (semi)safely behind the wire.  One tour of each, with little personal investment in either country.  The War in Iraq became something foreign to the war I fought, while my experience in Afghanistan was watching the war on TV and occasionally getting rocketed.  


This isn't about me, though.  It's about us.  All of us know, or at least know of, someone affected by the events of 9/11.  Whether directly (9/11 itself) or indirectly (the resulting wars), America was forever changed.  It's fitting that we seem to have forgotten why we were in Afghanistan in the first place.  Should we have stayed so long?  I don't think so, but I'm not a decision maker.  Regardless, history will label Afghanistan as a military failure and as an example of failed American interventionism.  Americans will continue to politicize every event, the media will continue to instigate division, and the events of 9/11/2001 will continue to fade from our collective memories.  Until the next time...




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  • 1 year later...

Yesterday was the first 9/11 I spent out of uniform since 2002.  Honestly, I didn't think about it a whole lot and carried on like normal, at least until later in the evening.  


Twenty-one years ago we largely came together as a nation.  Twin Tower and American flag bumper stickers started coming off the presses, shortly followed by Support Our Troops stickers.  Last week's passing of the Queen reminded me of her request that 'The Star Spangled Banner' be played during the Changing of the Guard.  There were the usual hateful players out there, but the US and much of the rest of the world were in both shock and mourning, realizing that a line had been crossed which required unity and focus of effort against those that wish harm on Western ideals.


Now we live in a country that people want to see divided between extremes.  One side can assemble mostly peacefully and be declared insurrectionists while the other side can burn cities and attack police as part of their "peaceful" protests.  I don't want to get overly political, but a lot of people with a background similar to mine view our current leadership, both civilian and military, as weak and ineffective.  The media?  Well, they do what they can to aid and abet those who lack traditional values.


It's hard to believe that 21 years have gone by so quickly.  I've visited the 9/11 Memorial as well as the memorial in Arlington National Cemetery, and even printed out a bio of Rick Rescorla which I'd brief my Trainees on and leave at the Fire Watch desk for them to read.


I'll keep it brief, but if you haven't heard of Rescorla, you should look him up.  British Para, then Rhodesian and later London Metropolitan cop, and finally US Army officer, becoming known as the Soldier on the cover of Hal Moore's book "We Were Soldiers Once... And Young".  Retiring as a Colonel, Rescorla eventually became a corporate security expert, warning about a potential attack on the World Trade Center.  On 9/11/2001 he was Director of Security for Morgan Stanley, and credited with helping to save almost 2700 employees before being last seen going back up the South Tower just before it collapsed.  His remains have not yet been identified.


Reading Rick Rescorla's bio gives me hope that there are still selfless men and women out there willing to help others in times of need.  Turning on the news these days just shows a constant rotation of violence, crime, and overall negativity that (in my mind) does not represent America.  


Oh well, I've rambled enough.  Time to get back in the garage and update my progress in the thread I started a few weeks ago.  Spoiler alert: about the only thing I've done is plug in the beer fridge, which is still going strong after 26 years.

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Awesome post and couldn't agree more with your words.  I have heard of Rescorla, incredible person.  Going to read the link as you can always learn more.  People like him do give me hope with everything that is going on in this country.  It's a crazy time and not excited about where we are headed, however stories like this and people like Rescorla are awesome.

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