Six years ago today the world changed forever. I vividly remember where I was when I first heard the news. Living close to the pentagon and having friends and family who work there, the day took on a special significance for me. One thing that 9-11 created was heroes. Firefighters, police, military, politicians, and just regular folk. What I saw that day and since are people who, when danger came, ran head first TOWARD the danger, first to help the hurting and then to fight the enemy. Amidst all the political maneuvering over the war in Iraq, I think we sometimes lose sight of these heroes. So I’d like to tell you about one of them.
At the time of 9-11 he was a retired marine. He had served in the marines as a Blackhawk pilot. He is married with three children. When we went into Iraq, he chose to come out of retirement and deploy to the Middle East for six months to help train pilots. He did this voluntarily, of course, as so many have. He called me late on the evening before his deployment and asked if he could stop by to discuss his will. Of course he could, I said, and so we sat at my kitchen table late that evening looking over his will and discussing the possibility that nobody likes to talk about. I remember looking into his eyes and seeing resolve, determination, loyalty, duty and courage. I helped him with his will, we shook hands, and he left.
So often when we hear a story like this we expect it to end badly. Fortunately, it didn’t. He deployed for six months and then returned safely to his family. But his sacrifice, and his family’s sacrifice, made me look at my life and the freedom we enjoy a little differently. It made the inconveniences on the subway each morning seem a little less inconvenient. And it made me appreciate that much more the time I have with my wife and my children.
So today I salute this hero and all the heroes that, when danger came, ran with all their energy and strength toward the danger, not from it.
Published or updated May 23, 2011.