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Remembering 9-11

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Where were you on 9-11?…

Eleven years ago, I was a young man in the military.  I had already deployed to Kuwait once, and I had seen more in my life than most young people that age.  Adapting to military life was difficult at first, but it was about to get even more difficult.

It’s amazing how times have changed.  When I first joined the Army, most people thought that I had done something wrong and was making a mistake.  Some actually asked, “why are you giving up?”  At the time, joining the military was not seen as heroic; instead, it was seen as a last option for wayward youth.  Few parents want their child to join the military.

I joined at a time of peace.  In July of 1999, the Gulf War was becoming a faded memory, and the world seemed generally peaceful.  My plan, then, was to do my three to four years, collect the college money, and have a fresh start at life.  September 11th changed all of that.

Few of us were there because we had dreams or aspirations of a military career – myself included.  I even turned down the opportunity to go to West Point because I didn’t want the long commitment.  Like me, most soldiers joined the military to help pay for school, but that was it.  We didn’t want to be soldiers, but when the terrorists attacked our country that day, we finally realized the consequences of our choice.  If we wanted money for school, we had to earn it first.

In the days and weeks following 9-11, while the country mourned the loss of so many innocent lives, we were called, almost immediately, to protect “sensitive assets” in the area.  Not knowing what the terrorists would try next, we were spread thin to key locations – doing our best to prevent any further tragedies.  We, a group of scared young men and women, were called to protect our country from an enemy we couldn’t even identify.

The moment that I heard that a second plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, I said, “Guys, we’re going to war.”  It didn’t take long for that to become a reality.  We’ve been fighting this war for over a decade now, and over 6,000 U.S. men and women have lost their lives.  Beyond that, many, many more civilian lives have been lost in those countries, as well.  Now, we have to ask ourselves: are we winning the war?

We have been fighting to protect our lives, but their aim was our way of life.  We fight to protect our nation’s wealth; their goal was to show our greed.  For ten years, we have been fighting the war with bullets, bombs, and tanks; meanwhile, their primary weapon has been fear.  They attacked us for our religious and ideological differences, but there was no need – we freely give up our religious freedoms anyway.

If we want to win the War on Terror, we need to realize that we will not win with bullets.  To overcome their weapons of fear, anger, and hatred, we must respond with peace, love, and unity.  We must return to our nation’s original values – Christian values – and let the Lord guide us once again.  As we learn in Psalm 27:

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom do I fear? The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom am I afraid? When evildoers come at me to devour my flesh, these my enemies and foes themselves stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart does not fear; though war be waged against me, even then do I trust. -Psalm 27:1-3, NAB

It has been said that we will never forget 9-11, but have we begun to forget God?  It is time that we return to our nation’s motto, In God We Trust.  May our country never forget the role of God in our lives… and in our country!

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