September 11 marked a day of decisions for many young men and women as they felt called to join the military after watching the twin towers fall with so many people trapped inside. Although their decision may have ultimately been driven by anger, each person had their own reason for making such a commitment. For some, the decision was easy, but for veterans that had previously served, the decision may have been more difficult. They knew politically correct politicians would force them into battle with rules to play by, in a nation that knows no rules. This would ultimately prevent them from gaining a complete and total victory; an outcome they likely already knew. Many would never see their home or families again, while others would return as damaged goods, discarded by many in a nation that screams for equality, but promotes inequality to justify a political agenda. They would find the system they were fighting for would soon be as unforgiving as the enemy on the battlefield. The ugly truth of it all was that our committed young military men and women would become pawns in a political game of chess where lives no longer held real value to the government that sent them into places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. This was evident by the over-constraining Rules of Engagement (ROE) that would not allow them to fire until someone fired upon them. By that time, a life was usually lost.
For this former infantryman, although I see 9-11 as the day our nation was attacked in an unconventional and deadly manner, leading to the death of many of our family members, I also see it as the anniversary of a 20-year war that we were not allowed to win. A war in which so many gave their lives unnecessarily because of the manner in which they were used. So many others that survived would find it impossible to live with their encounters, with many still suffering today, only to be ignored or quietly excused.
As I place my thoughts on this blog, I can't help but wonder where we would be today if the Generals had been allowed to truly lead. What would it have been like if our military leaders had been afforded the ability to dictate the narrative with the full support of our nations capital, instead of taking direction from those who have never experienced the same kind of commitment as a man or woman who willingly gives their lives for a nation. The tacticians of yesterday are no longer in existence in a nation that has become so accustomed to safe-spaces and coloring books; a nation where politicians are more concerned with a self-created social injustice monster than they are with integrity, equality and the continued pursuit of freedom.
It is my prayer that each family and friend of those who returned from battle pay attention to their silent cries. I pray you will see the indicators of pain and discontent that our returning servicemen and women experience each day. Take more than a moment to set aside your business or personal ambitions, and listen to their whisperings. This is the first step in preventing the loss of even more lives through veteran suicide. Understand their lives will no longer be anywhere near pure and innocent. They can't return to become the same person they were as a teen when they first joined the military, and you will never be able to fully grasp the concept of what they are going through. How many more lives are we willing to add to the 2,977 that were lost on 9-11? Each soldier, sailor, airman and marine that died due to the follow-on actions of 9-11 should be remembered with them. It is the feeling of this author that their names should memorialized in stone and called out in Arlington each year. I feel we may never return to being a nation that always came out victorious, knowing we had purpose and knowing freedom was more than a passing fancy. Instead, I fear our moral compass can no longer see a path to morality as we grow numb to the direction of the 10 commandments and begin to redefine that which is moral.
As you remember where you were and what you were doing when our nation was attacked, please take a moment to consider the lives that were lost or destroyed by the war that followed. Reach out to a family member or friend that served and perform a buddy check to make sure they are ok. Invite them to spend time with you and your family without looking at the flaws resulting from battle. Most importantly, love them. Love them as though they were your own brother or sister and be a confidant for them. Be there for them in their darkest hour and show them that you appreciate the sacrifice they made. Keep in mind that their wounds are the result of 9-11 and this day is as much about them as it is for those who were killed in towers or the plane that crashed in a Pennsylvania field.