I was serving in the military on 9/11
I was on active duty, and on base in Miramar, California, preparing to deploy on a training exercise with my platoon of Marines to 29 Palms, CA. We were in the parking lot, early in the morning, waiting for our buses to arrive and staging our gear when we first heard the news start to come through on someone's car radio. I ran into our headquarters building, and watched on CNN in our conference room as the second plane hit the towers.
We all knew immediately that the course of our military service had changed completely in those moments. We went from a peacetime Marine Corps to a nation at war all in a morning. We packed bags and had them ready in our cars when we came to work each morning, and stayed in that posture for the next 16 months until we finally deployed. My roommate, a Navy helicopter pilot, deployed on an aircraft carrier within a week of 9/11, and the wait was tough for those of us that stayed behind initially. Our training took on a new urgency and purpose. We started to train to a specific geography, knowing now that we would deploy to a desert environment, though not yet knowing whether it would be the mountains of Afghanistan or the flat desert of Iraq. We spent the next 16 months training and preparing to do our jobs in combat. When our turn came, we deployed to Kuwait in January of 2003, and then into Iraq in March 2003 during the initial invasion, or what came to be known as the "march up."
I'm gratefully aware of the social capital that veterans possess in this country. We are a group of people that are well regarded by the American public, and we have benefited from that generosity and care over the last 20 years. We have an opportunity, now, to use our voices and our examples of service and leadership to inspire the same in others across our country. We know how it feels to serve a cause greater than ourselves, and to be part of a team with a higher purpose, and we also know how much we're capable of accomplishing together. Because of that, I hope to spend the next 20 years encouraging and inspiring those around me, whether veterans or non veterans, to serve and to give back. I want them to feel the same impact that I, personally, have felt in service, and I know how beneficial that service can be to this country. There is so much left to be done here at home, and I look forward to putting my experience and skills to good use, knowing that I also have much more to give.
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