I had just turned 12 the day America was attacked. I was naïve to the world, having just started 7th grade in the “big school” and trying to find my place among my friends and classmates. But on September 11, 2001 I realized that the rest of the world was a lot closer than I thought.
I was in band class when the announcement came over the PA system – we had been attacked. We were playing “Phantom of the Opera” and I was on drums. We paused for the announcement and stood in awe for several moments afterward. There was no television in the band room. Not wanting to scare us, our band teacher had us continue playing for the rest of the class, but it had a different tone to it. We were all distracted, wondering what these attacks meant. Why did they happen?
When the bell rang we made our way to our next class – Spanish class. There was no Spanish being spoken that day. The television was turned on and our teacher had tears streaming down her face. Not much was said as we all sat down and tuned in to the news. I watched the towers come down on a loop and I remember sitting there stunned. No words, no emotion, just shock. I had just been to New York City for a visit a couple of years before and had seen the Twin Towers up close. I remember being a big fan of RugRats as a kid and seeing the towers as Phil and Lil because of a special.
As the days and weeks went on, classes slowly got back to normal, but I was changed forever. That moment stuck with me and I suddenly started caring more about world news. I paid attention as more information was gathered about the attacks. When we invaded Afghanistan to take down Al Qaeda the first thoughts of enlisting in the military entered my mind. I saw on the news my first glimpses of people suffering, of children growing up in a war torn world. I realized how blessed I am to live in the United States of America, a country where we are abundantly blessed. I wanted Al Qaeda taken down for the black eye they gave America, but moreso I wanted to make a difference in the world, to make it a better place.
Today I am a soldier in the United States Army and getting ready to deploy to the Middle East for the first time. Remembering days like 9/11, D-Day and Pearl Harbor remind me why I serve. I serve for my beloved country, protecting those at home with the hopes we don’t see another attack on our soil. I serve for the brotherhood and sisterhood of those I serve with. There is a bond between us that binds us together. Our war wounds are mostly invisible here at home, but we serve each other when we come together through our common cause and experience.
15 years ago my world became smaller, but my cause became bigger. Today I serve with the mission of making the world a better place. Regardless of what your political beliefs are, regardless of the results of this election, this country is worth it. The world is worth it. We can come together. We can make the world a better place.