An Active Duty Soldier's Thoughts on 9/11

Brian Worstell is Owner Mike's brother and my uncle. When I was an infant and Brian had just come home from deployment, I cried when he touched my foot. I didn't figure out that I liked him until he was in Iraq and called to ask about me. While, you know, he's overseas fighting. Now, I know him as an everyday hero who never misses an opportunity to snag a brownie and who's always down to pick on me and play basketball.

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As the 13th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001 approaches, I sit and reflect as to what that day means to me. As an American, it infuriates me that it ever happened at all -- how could the most powerful nation in the world come under attack with such a brutal and deadly act of violence? I think this day has a special meaning to every American with no two meanings the same. But one thing is true for all Americans regardless of race, creed, or color: our way of life was challenged that day.

As a Senior Non Commissioned Officer with more than 23 years of service and retirement right around the corner, I look at 9/11 from a completely different perspective. As I think back over the course of my career and try to put into words what this means to me it is this: that while not always glamorous with many missed birthday’s and countless other significant events, one thing has always made it make sense to me and that is that the last 23 years have been well spent in the service and defense of the American way of life.

I have had the honor and privilege to fight for those who could not fight for themselves and protect the freedom so many crave. Few understand how to protect and fewer know the price of that freedom. It may sound cliché but it is a fact: freedom is not free and since the founding of our nation that price has been paid in blood by those willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good. I knew when I entered the Army 23 years ago the possibility of death in the defense of my country was always a possible outcome and in my younger days the thought of dying gallantly in battle was heroic. Now that I am older and have fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan, I realize I would rather die an old man with my kids and grand kids and family gathered around me. What is more heroic than that?

As I said, fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves is not just a domestic battle. We in America want the best for our children; we sacrifice and do things we may not always want but we do what is necessary. I think back to my last deployment to one of the worst parts in southern Afghanistan. The thing that bothered me the most and stood out to me was the children. They didn’t ask to be born in one of the worst areas in the country; they didn’t ask to grow up with the constant threat of violence. The parents of these kids the hopeless blank expressions on there faces knowing that it gets no better the hopes of a better future impossible. The thought that maybe something, anything, you may have done while there could just maybe help one of those kids to do better makes all the sacrifice and hardship a little easier to endure.

After I returned from my last deployment from Afghanistan in 2012 I went to New York City and, although it was many years after 9/11, I went to Ground Zero and to the new monument. As I stood there, I realized that the American people are resilient. We may get knocked down but you'd better believe we're getting back up. The people in the city seemed happy and excited about rebuilding and the future. As I watched I couldn’t help but to think that I had done my little part in restoring confidence in the American way of life.

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Brian Worstell

Senior Non Commissioned Officer

United States Army

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