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Ten Years Later: A Veteran's Reflections



On September 11 of this year, we meet the 10-year anniversary of a tragedy that froze the world. A decade ago, humankind watched in awe as graceful aircraft plummeted headfirst into the World Trade Center, knowing our lives had changed forever.

Proud and filled with fear of the unknown, Service Members from all branches of the Military stood, ready to protect our safety and freedom. They stood with packed bags, and with crying loved ones. They stood without the knowledge of when they would be able to sleep, eat, or see their families. They stood without knowing who was awaiting their arrival on the other end, however, that those waiting did so with malicious intent.

Yet they stood.

On September 11, we remember a time that not only did Service Members and proud Americans stand side by side, but other countries stood with us. Humanity banded together. It formed cleanup crews. It donated food, water, and shelter. Humanity, despite the hand it was dealt, was good to us that day.

Humanity’s gifts were small, though, in comparison to the horror we faced. Police officers, Fire Fighters, EMS, Port Authority Officers, Service Members, and civilians were caught in the midst of this unbelievable event. The world watched in sadness and reverence as the updates came. Some detached, some waiting in dread, some waiting for news that never came. 

One of the most thought provoking quotes I’ve ever read comes from Og Mandino. He writes:

“Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.

I think he’s right.

I close with two thoughts. Two very, very important things to remember:

Freedom is not free, and when humanity graces our souls, what we can accomplish is immeasurable.