Ten years have passed since the devastating attacks on our nation. Today I will be doing the same thing I was a decade ago, training to compete at the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) National Championships. So many things are different though. Then I was in Fort Benning, Georgia wearing a training uniform with US Army Shooting Team blazoned across my back. I was working to claim another title for the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU).
I remember just finishing up a run on a course of fire when a fellow soldier from the AMU came up and told us that a tower had fallen, lives had been lost and American was under attack. I get the same chills thinking about it now as I had felt the moment I had heard the terrible news. In an instant we were locked down, told to report any suspicious activity, and to secure our areas.
As a soldier, my life changed drastically. Fort Benning was sealed up, every entrance manned by military police. For those living off post like me, getting back on took many hours. Soldiers in units that were not critical were simply told to standby and stay at home. The interstate leading to the post’s entrance was a parking lot as every vehicle was searched. No military ID, no entry. With nowhere to move, cars ran out of gas leaving people somewhat stranded. I ended up getting back to work on my mountain bike, taking the river walk trail from downtown Columbus on to Fort Benning.
Travel issues and the uncertainty of future attacks kept me from going to the nationals that year. As someone so dedicated to competing, winning another title suddenly didn’t seem as important anymore. Like so many Americans, I was glued to the news, watching, feeling and mourning.
Before I head to the range today, I have much on my mind. My late grandfather was in the Navy during World War II. As a child I remember how affected he was for a tragedy that happened on another day, December 7, 1941. Until September 11, 2001, I could never truly understand the shock, rage and deep sadness my grandfather felt from the attacks on Pearl Harbor. I have even more reasons to fear an attack on our soil now. I have a family of my own.
Time heals, but it is important to remember. Our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is something to be cherished and protected. On this tenth anniversary of a day filled with devastation and terror I choose to remember those we lost, those who have lost loved ones and those who sacrifice so much to keep us safe and defend our freedom.