9/11: Fly The Flag Today
This post won’t use the ‘humor’ category or tag because there’s nothing funny at all about today. If you have lived under a rock for the past ten years, you probably still know that this is the tenth anniversary of the terror attack on September 11th, 2001.
Someday reporters will do featurelets about “where were you on 9/11” much like they do for the JFK assasination and well they should. I remember the day clearly. It was Tuesday. I was a captain, and was enjoying a little exercise in the gym at Fort Irwin. I had just stepped off the treadmill when my First Sergeant (“Rock”) grabbed me and pulled me over to a live CNN broadcast on a TV. We speculated that perhaps an errant pilot had made a very grave mistake. I climbed in my Blazer, and by the time I had completed the 3-minute drive back to my room, the United States was clearly headed to war. As I cleaned up, dressed, and ate, I watched the towers burn, then fall. Di, at the time my girlfriend, was visiting. She said perhaps she ought to leave early; I replied that I doubted she’d be going anywhere soon. I was right: Fort Irwin, like every military base world-wide, shut down and inbound traffic backed up from the gate all the way back to I-15, twenty-eight miles away. Rumors of a concurrent attack on D.C. turned out to be half-true. As I was briefed on the events, the Pentagon burned. Much later, we learned of the selfless, heroic efforts of the Flight 93 passengers, who became the first warriors to strike a blow back for America. We all spent the night trying to get in touch with military friends – just to make sure.
We have been at the prosecution of the War on Terror now for ten years. This equates to just under one-quarter of my life, over one-half of my Army career, and a month and a few days longer than my marriage. Had Di and I been able to have kids together, s/he would be in grade school now and not know any other condition of existence. We all hear and read a lot of material debating the rightness, wrongness, duration, and direction of the war, and in our Republic, this is good. I have heard firsthand the inequities dealt our veterans after Viet Nam, and I allow myself to think that perhaps the greatest good we derived from that scarring was the ability, as a people, to condemn the war while simultaneously supporting the Soldier who fights it.
This essay for today is not about rightness or wrongness. I have a unique perspective on the war by default, and most of that perspective was a front-row seat. At other times, I was playing the game. On one hand, it is somewhat sad that barely 3% of the population bears the burden of defending the other 97%. On the other hand, it gives me a great deal of pride to be part of a military so capable, so powerful, and so lethal that this lopsided condition is possible. Every coin has two sides.
Today is Sunday, September 11th, 2011. Set aside your agreements or disagreements and fly our Flag. Fly it because of what you believe. Fly it in spite of what you think.
Fly it because some things are worth remembering.