Although I am not good with words, I feel like writing. Here we are, September 11th, 2005. Four years after that devastating day when we as American’s were attacked on our own land by cowards and lost thousands of innocent people. And we saw a nation come together in the wake of a tragedy, and a new breed of heroes came about. Both firefighters and police alike gave there lives for something that seems very simple, because most watch it through a T.V. Saving a life, in the middle of chaos, and giving your own, easy to see, easy to write, but not easy to do. During a moment of silence today, when we rose our Colors in Al Asad Iraq, this was all passing through my mind. I will never forget that day, neither will anyone that existed during it. I was honored to be able to take a moment of silence, in Iraq for all the victims, then I looked around and and took my own personal moment for all the Marines I saw around me serving with me in this war, the one that began on that day. Most of them barely 20, and some not even 19, men and women, who knew exactley where they were gonna go, and still signed their life away, VOLUNTARILY. I thought about what brought me here, in 2001 I was a 18 year old punk, who did not have a care in the world, no respect for authority, nonetheless, for anything. I was careless on a one way road to nowhere, was not thankful for anything. Then at work on that day I heard the news stating the attacks in New York, it was merely reported as a plane hitting one of the towers, and eventually turned into alot more than just that. We took a smoke break, then Lee came and let us clean up and head home to watch the news. When it got soaked in, it freaked me out, and noone really knew what to make of it, we were all freaked.
In the coming weeks after, I started to realize how much of a loser I really was, and how much I had taken for granted in my life, I had everything a kid coulda wanted, and a good head, but I pissed it away, and barley made it out of school. I was in a 1 bedroom roach infested apartment, lived like a slob, and came to the conclusion there was no way out, I could not afford school, neither could my parents. So after alot of thought, and some advice, I took a walk to the recruiting station, and straight to the Marines office, I decided if I do it, take the hardest road, to not only teach myself a lesson in life, but to prove I wanted to change. I got laughed at, I was quite overweight, took me 6 months to drop about 70 pounds, just to get shipped to boot camp. And change I did, I had an attitude at first, but it got knocked out of me quick, in about 1 second to be exact. I made it through, 30 more pounds lighter, and a whole new outlook.
Then came the news, which I knew would come eventually, but not right away, that we are going to Iraq, our Drill Instructors said that 60% of the platoon would go there. We did not take him seriously at all, till that day. I was nervous, more so in telling my family. It went ok, mainly due to the fact I really did not know where we were going till later, so I told them I was just going on the ship. Then the news started shoeing the building tension, and then we all knew what was coming. Then OIF kicked off on 17 march with the cruise missles, and we got word we would be crossing the border on the 23rd. At first we were pretty excited, nervous, the whole butterfly thing, then the fear set in, I’ll admit it, we were scared shitless, invading someones country is very real, and when you are first, history tells it is the worst, just look at the beach of Iwo Jima and try to picture how many dead Marines were laying there. So a couple sleepless days later, we are on the flight deck about to board the helicopter, know the butterflies turn into the shits, and you’re thinking is this real. Hell yes it is, and hell yeah you are here. You can see the other guys, same emotionless young blank stare you got, you would never know we wanted to shit ourselves. The flight starts, we are over water for about 30 minutes, and most of us fell asleep, just a natural reaction to being on a bird. Then comes the first shots you hear, the .50 cal starts ripping up bad guys on the ground, not what you wnted to wake you up, but the beginning to the longest 21 days of our lives, 21 to baghdad, the highway to hell. 21 days that will live with me and the men I served it with the rest of my life. 1 day was all it took to make me look around and appreciate everything we have to live for, the freedoms we have, the luxuries we don’t think twice about because they are always there, and always have been.
So with your thoughts today, mourn the victoms, and their families from the 9/11 attacks, that day changed history, my life, and many others lives. And do me a favor, and take a minute, or at least a second, to praise the men and women serving out here, people just like me, many I have found have a similar backround as me, and decided to change their lives. We all remember, none of us will forget. We all know someone who has paid the ultimate price, gave their life for the flag, and continue to press on and complete our mission to serve and protect innocent people around the world, and make sure that a 9/11 does not happen again. I am proud to serve America, I have never been more proud to be a Marine. Words cannot explain what I felt today, but I tried. “Courage, is being scared to death and being willing to saddle up anyways.”-John Wayne. Semper Fidelis.
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