In the face of tragedy, the brave rise up
It’s been 11 years since Sept. 11, 2001, and America has faced down enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan and stayed on offense in other pockets of the globe where terrorist organizations have attempted to regenerate. The post-Sept. 11 world is still a dangerous place, but thanks to the service and sacrifice of the men and women of the U.S. military in combat action over the past decade, America is safer today and better prepared to face the global terrorist threat of the 21st century.
The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were a call to action for millions of Americans. Our all-volunteer force is filled with young, patriotic Americans who, second by second, watched as our nation was attacked by a group of terrorists who were targeting not just our homeland, but also our way of life. Many Americans have since stepped forward in service to the country, choosing to respond with an unapologetic willingness to lay down their lives so that future generations will never endure the same experience.
It was the same choice I made for myself when I quit my job and joined the Marine Corps in the days immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks. During my time in service as a Marine officer, I deployed three times, twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. What I witnessed was a new generation of American heroes proving their fortitude, committing to a cause bigger than themselves and demonstrating an unmatched determination.
Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen have served with distinction. Altogether, more than a million Americans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some have returned home to their families and to their lives before military service. Others have chosen to continue the fight, extending their service obligations. Some have returned home bearing the scars of war, while more than 6,000 Americans made the ultimate sacrifice. They all deserve our gratitude, not only for giving inspiration, but for reflecting the true goodness that comes from the hearts and minds of the American people.