I was only 13 years old when the attacks happened. I remember watching the TV but being too young and immature to really understand the magnitude of it all. I knew it was bad, I knew people had been hurt and died, but I didn’t understand nor could I imagine what it all meant.
I don’t think any of us, regardless of age, would have predicted that it would lead to 12 years of war and counting. Just shy of half of my life has been filled with news of war. It’s a little strange to think about it that way.
As time progressed and I watched troops invade Iraq and Afghanistan, I didn’t know the politics nor did I care. I still don’t personally. All I knew at that time was that I wanted to be one of those guys. I wanted to be able to fight to protect those who either couldn’t or wouldn’t do it for themselves. I wanted to wear a uniform, carry a gun, travel the world, and chase bad guys down with my friends. It sounded pretty awesome to me and I knew it was only a matter of time before I would go.
Years later I remember watching the movie Saving Private Ryan on TV one Sunday evening. This was one of the first war movies I ever saw and it changed my life. I was in my late teens and had given my future a tiny bit of consideration. When I saw the bonds between those men I knew that was what I wanted.
After joining in 2007 and training for two years I had my chance. We were only in country for one lousy month when things were cut short. Even in that amount of time I had developed a bond with the men I served with. It is absolutely amazing how a group of individuals with different beliefs, backgrounds, goals, and dreams, can all come together to support and take care of each other. Those bonds are something very few get to experience but let me tell you, it is an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.
For those of you who don’t know, yesterday was Brad Smiths birthday. I read along as people write birthday wishes on Facebook but I never join in. I think about Brad, Josh, John, and Brian every single day, not just on their birthdays or other holidays. There are times when I think I should feel guilty for not writing those sorts of things for them. But to be honest I just don’t feel the need. They are on my mind every single day and I think of them whether or not I post it on Facebook for others to read.
These guys have given me what I have now. They’ve been the motivation I’ve needed to always try to be better than yesterday and to improve. They’ve taught me the value of life and the real meaning of happiness. It’s because of them that being blind isn’t a challenge.
Every day we have is a blessing. I agree that we should never forget September 11th and the sacrifices that have been made as a result of it. We can all do a little more than just remember though. Act on it. Take advantage of what you’ve been given in your life. Love your families, kiss your kids, hug a stranger for no good reason. Every one of us can choose to make every day beautiful but take it a step further and help someone else have a great day too.
Try to be that person they mention to their family when they get home. We’ve all experienced it. That person who just seems disgustingly happy and whether or not we like it we get infected with the same happiness.
You’ll be amazed at the difference it will make in your life.
Use this anniversary and every sacrifice since as motivation to take care of each other. We live in the best country on earth. Let’s all do what little we can to reunite this country like it was 12 years ago. Remember that? When you could read the news or any given social network and not be overwhelmed with angry posts about this person or that group. It was nice, I miss it. It’s part of the reason I’m hardly on Facebook anymore. When has negativity helped a situation improve or even make you feel better? Probably never.
So do me a favor. For the next month, don’t put anything on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media site without making it something happy. You control your day and can influence those around you. Be that annoyingly happy person who infects everyone around them. I dare you. I’ll bet you’ll like it.
God bless this country and all of those who have sacrificed for it. Change starts in our own homes people.