Posts Tagged ‘salute’

This is my last Patriots Day in uniform.  13 years ago I was a 31 year old Buck Sergeant preparing to go to his first foreign country to help train them in peace keeping operations when the fabric of the world I had known was ripped apart.  As we were packing our kit to depart in two days terrorists took it upon themselves to bring us to war.  Ten days later we eventually left on our mission while my brothers and sisters in arms were packing for the unknown.  I did not deploy to either invasion, but I did eventually make it to both Iraq and Afghanistan for close to five years total time deployed.

I have been blessed over the years to know some very special people.  Some of them have given the last full measure, some are continuing to serve and all too many of them are stuck in a ground in between.  They gave what they had and have been unable to adjust and are lost, looking for a way to come back or to just find some measure of peace for themselves.  9/11 remembrances often consist of memorial and dedications to the 2993 souls who lost their lives that day and that is rightful thing to do.  2993 innocent and unsuspecting people paid the ultimate price for simply being a citizen of the United States or having the misfortune of being at the location when the attacks happened.

9/11 for me is not simply about those people and their families.  Casualties from that day have continued to pile up in lives lost and scars visible and hidden.  Environmental effects from the Towers continue to plague emergency responders and volunteers all these years later.  Iraq saw 4486 of my comrades in arms give their lives in service by the time we pulled out in 2011, as well as countless thousands who still suffer physical and emotional traumas as a result of their service there.  Afghanistan has seen an additional 2344 killed in action to date and thousands more with physical and emotional trauma to date, and we have been there longer with still more to go.  Those attacks that day have continued and will continue to take and radically affect the lives of Americans in and out of uniform.  In this regard, Usama bin Laden and Al Qaeda have exceed well beyond their expectations.

We as Americans have drawn a distinction between the casualties of that fateful day and our subsequent losses in the years since.  I think this is a mistake on our part.  The events that day and those in the years to follow and the years to come are indelibly tied together and each loss we continue to suffer is directly attributable to 9/11 2001.  Opinions on how much or little justification we had for invading Iraq on top of our assembled coalition hostilities in Afghanistan mean very little when the truths are not truths for the sake of being truthful but political machinations intended to sway a quorum.

Thirteen years of war has changed us as a country.  Thirteen years of remembrance reminds of of what our country is supposed to be.  We now have one tower where two used to stand and we have a country with multiple divisions where we once came together for the common good, saw beyond the horror of the scenes before us to look into our own hearts and extend our hands to those who desperately needed.

This last year is bittersweet.  Almost half my life has been in uniform, it has been my identity and provided me the optic that I have been able to view the events of these last years through.  Sometimes that vision has been with sparkling clarity and magnified view and all too many other times I have had to dry the moisture off it to see beyond my own sorrow.  I do not look upon Patriots Day as a holiday but one of remembrance and reverence.  I give one final salute and take my moments of reflection for those who have given their lives, those who have moved on as best they can and those who will never be able to.

Rest in Peace whose souls have flown


Never Forget