Ten Years Ago Today – An Officer Candidate in the United States Army Remembers 9/11


On September 11, 2001, I was 16 years old and in a minivan headed towards Houston, Texas. It was Tuesday, mine and Ryan’s favorite day of the week. Soon we’d be with all of our friends who were part of the, not kidding here, homeschool choir we were in. There probably wasn’t a better place for us to be. Shortly before arriving, unconfirmed and unclear reports started coming over the radio about a plane hitting one of the towers of the World Trade Center. I remember getting the impression it was a Cessna or something along those lines. Not long after we arrived at the church it became clear that this was something serious. No classes were being held, no one was singing for damn sure. Choir rehearsals were all cancelled but several of students stayed at the church. The adults all… did whatever adults do. I really don’t remember seeing them much at all. Meanwhile me and my friends wandered around outside, remarking at the absence of air traffic. Most of us wound up converging on a radio upstairs. The news was coming in that one of the towers would fall soon. I don’t think I believed it. I remember I kept bouncing a tennis ball, and making casual remarks to try and lighten the mood while some of the girls were trying to fight back tears. The reporters were speculating that tens of thousands would die. I don’t think I believed that either.
After we got home the TV was not turned off for days. We just watched, unable to do anything. Unable to even comprehend fully what the events would mean for America.
Before long our country went to war. I had always said that if our country went to war when I was at a “military age” I would join and fight for my country. By the time I graduated high school in 2003 I guess I didn’t really feel like we were at war. Sure we had soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, but I had grown up on World War Two history. This did not feel big enough. I honestly didn’t feel compelled to get into the fight. Instead I went and I got my college degree. Throughout college I never stopped reading military history. One summer I read “Not a Good Day to Die” by Sean Naylor and “None Braver” by Michael Hirsh. Those books really brought home to me the reality of the wars being fought. I suddenly felt like I should go. But still I didn’t do anything decisive. Yeah, I started working out and running. I talked to a recruiter, started eating healthy, drinking a little less and I gave up caffeine. I was starting to prepare myself, sure. But I was about to get engaged with a pretty girl I met at Texas State. I had things I wanted to do in my life. I decided I could serve my community in law enforcement. So I finished my degree in Criminal Justice, got engaged and graduated college. Then I went back to my hometown Conroe, Texas. Shortly thereafter I was no longer engaged and although I succeeded in getting my TCLEOSE license to be come a police officer in Texas, I had yet to find a fulltime job. Over the next few months I slowly realized that I was unattached and unfulfilled. I no longer felt that I had anything holding me back from joining the Army. First though I started talking to the National Guard. The recruiter did not put a lot of effort into recruiting me and that kind of fizzled out. Then one day I watched “Alive Day Memories; Home From Iraq”. By the time the documentary ended I knew I’d be joining the Army. The war was real. We were taking casualties and I was sitting at home, reading books and watching documentaries on the war. It suddenly struck me as ridiculous. I was acting as though I thought our soldiers were heroes and I “supported” them so much, but what did that mean to any of them? I was choosing to remain home while they fought a war for our country. I suddenly was not OK with that. Finally I joined the Army. I shipped off November 9, 2010 and I’ve been at Fort Benning since then. I’m still doing nothing to directly help our troops overseas, but at least I made the decision to join the Army in a time of war. It took almost ten years, but I finally answered the call. I’m in Officer Candidate School now. I’m schedule to graduate on September 29. Then I will go to IBOLC, where I will learn how to be a lieutenant in the Infantry. I chose the Infantry because I joined to get in the fight. It was the easiest choice I ever made and I still cannot wait to find myself in Afghanistan, Iraq or anywhere else where I might find someone hostile to the United States of America.

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