I joined the Marines in 1989 and served four years of active duty honorably. It was the best of times and the worst of times and only a Marine can understand that meaning. I would do it again and again if I could do it all over.
One of my platoon Sergeants told me his account of what happened that day in Beirut. He said they were supposed to be in the barracks that night and were mad that they were "volunteered" to do an extra patrol. Little did they know that saved his life and 13 other Marines.
As the years past from 1983 most Americans forgot the 241 Americans who died in Beirut let alone that they were Marines and Sailors. But for us Marines the stunning images of the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19th, 1995 brought back memories of that attack in a land far away. Marines also died in that bombing in the recruiting office that was on the sixth floor of the Federal Building in Ok City, once again shedding blood in service for their country along with 168 innocent Americans. This time it was not Islamic Jihadists who did the bombing, but home grown terrorists who hated their county for its handling of the Waco, TX disaster under Clinton and Attorney General Reno. In no way was it excusable that act of terror.
On the morning of September 11th I was driving to work at the fire station. I was going on duty for my 24 hour shift. I remember the day, the morning, very well; sunny, bright, clear sky... "It's a great day to be flying!" as my dad would say. I remember thinking of him and how he would say that. It was a good morning to drive and I had just come back from a short trip to Canada with the wife and was wishing I had more time to spend out in the Bruce Peninsula than the three days I had.
Shortly after roll call we checked out our fire trucks. I then started working on a training PowerPoint for the F-16 aircraft and our procedures for shutting it down, etc. One of my co-workers came into the training room and said a plane flew into the WTC in New York. I turned the projection TV on in the training room and began loosely following it as it played out. I remember turning to the TV on Fox news and watching the second plane fly into it and thinking what just happened? Was that a rewind of the crash? Then shortly there after all hell broke loose and we were all called to the Day Room... we were at War. We all changed. Our stance changed. The base geared up for War. Our F-16s were armed rapidly and were some of the first in the air flying Combat Air Patrols over the U.S.
In the Seven years after 9/11 a lot has changed and some has not. Regardless of politics, we were attacked and it was not George Bush's doing, a right wing conspiracy, or some act of top secret CIA operations within the U.S. so we could attack Iraq. We were attacked and I watched 343 of my brothers die in the line of duty. They went in while other ran out, that's just the job we do, I do, and firefighters know this everyday and do this everyday with out much though of it.
So tomorrow is 9\11\2008 and the politicians will come together and hold hands for a day, speak their well written dialogues and talk of the nation and how 9\11 changed them and how we are stong, etc. Just remember which ones they are when they talk how bad the nation is, what is wrong with the USA and what we are doing wrong around the world. Remember the politicians who smear the Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen and women who serve this nation freely, not forced, but volunteered to do their duty to rush into danger, just like the firefighters of 9\11 did into the WTC towers. Remember the politicians who tell Generals they are lying and not telling the truth to congress, insulting the troops and their leaders in the process. Vote them out!
Tomorrow is 9\11. Remember those who went to work that day, and did not come home, for they were only doing their job. Remember the 343 from FDNY, the NYPD 23 police officers, and the 37 officers from the Port Authority Police Department who died in the line of duty. On that day there was no Republicans or Democrats, just unselfish Americans doing their job. I wish we could go back to that spirit in the days right after 9\11. We could do so much more good united to help each other than smearing lies, views, and political attacks on each other to gain a foothold with voters.