On this day, I reflect on the peace and the innocence of a generation lost the following day in 2001. Twenty years ago, I was the Anti-Terrorism Force Protection Reaction Force Commander for the base of Quantico, VA, just south of Washington D.C.
On September 10th, that meant I led a force of Marines ready to respond to floods and natural disasters around the base to keep it operational. Terrorism wasn't in our headlights. The base gates were open and unguarded for much of the day.
On September 11th, that all changed.
We all have memories of the years since September 11th, and many of us still remember that day.
I will never forget. It was an awakening to Americans that danger could come knocking within our borders. I've heard it said during a crisis; we should look for "the helpers." In the Marine Corps, we say that "we run to the sound of the guns." While others logically run from danger, some people run right up to it and embrace it. On September 11th, 2001, helpers ran to ground zero. All across the country, people signed up and moved to help, and Marines went to the sound of the guns.
Today September 10th, 2021, I know servicemen and women not even born during September 11th who are willing to stand and serve in the face of adversity. Thirteen of this generation were taken from us in Kabul, Afghanistan, along with thousands of others over the years. An entire generation since September 11th didn't need to see that terror to be willing to fight it. Americans are freedom-loving, hard-working people of character. Shared values and a common purpose connect us. We mourn their loss and all those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom and the country we love.
We mourn the lost. Let's live today and try to make it worth the cost.
As you reflect this weekend on what has been gained and lost since September 11th, 2001, consider that maintaining a strong community and a strong nation requires effort from all of us. Today we face new and emerging challenges in our communities and our country. Let's join together with unity of purpose in finding solutions to the challenges facing our community today. Let's move toward the challenges and face them together.