Friday, September 10, 2010

I will Never Forget!

Tomorrow will be nine years since the worst attack on United States soil occurred. It is a somber day for our nation. With everything going on in our nation, we need to stop, take a pause, remember where we were, who we were with, and how much blood, sweat, tears we shed when we first heard about this. We must remember the lives that were given... no, Taken on that day and every day since then.

Whether you agree or disagree with the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, take a moment and thank a Veteran or Servicemember that is still alive. Take a moment to thank those that paid the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. Take a moment to say a prayer for those who lost someone, say a prayer for our soldiers, sailors, and airmen who are still in this battle.

As for me, I still remember it as if it were yesterday. I was returning from a Western Pacific Deployment on the USS Cleveland LPD-7. Our ship was between Hawaii and San Diego. We had Tigers (friends and family of those on the ship who boarded in Hawaii to ride with us to San Diego) on board and that day we were about to have an awards ceremony. Our Captain was known for being early to everything. at least 15-20 minutes early. As such, we had been on the flight deck since around 0715. the ceremony was to start at 0800. 0800 came and left. 0815 came and left. around 0830, our captain came on the 1MC (shipboard PA System) and told our crew that the ceremony was going to be postponed because there had been a terrorist attack on our nation in New York. He dismissed us and we all made our way to berthing areas, mess decks, anywhere that had a television. I remember watching a replay of the planes hitting and staring in disbelief.

I would lie if I said I wasn't scared shitless. My mom was on board with us. Were we going to turn around and vanish from our family for months longer than we already had? was my mom going to worry herself to death at home while her only child went off to war? would I pay the ultimate price for my country? if I did, I would never know the joy of being a father, the joy of being married, and every other great experience I hadn't had the chance to enjoy yet?

on a lighter note, later that afternoon while I was on watch, my mom came up to the bridge where I was on the Helm steering the ship and asked to talk to the Captain. I knew this was either going to be either very very bad, or just BAD. The captain said of course, what's on your mind? She simply said "My only child is right there steering this ship. I taught him how to shoot and that's why he has expert ribbons for every gun he's shot in the Navy. If he's going to kill terrorists, they should be afraid of me, not him. If he's going there, so am I". That was the one and only time I ever saw my Captain speechless. He had the wisdom to say "Ma'am, while I can't keep you from showing up overseas, I can't bring you on the ship. but you scare me more than the terrorists do right now. If you taught him how to shoot, I know he will be just fine, the terrorists on the other hand, I don't think they will be as lucky." Damn, I love my mom!!!

The ironic part of this whole situation was the night before, we had what we call "Cinema at Sea". where we watch a movie from a projector on the flight deck. Wanna guess what the movie was? Yeah, Pearl Harbor.

The events that happened on that day have shaped the man I am today. I cherish everything I have, the problems in life aren't as bad as I see them, and every morning I wake up thankful that I am still alive, I now have been fortunate to know what being married to a wonderful woman is like, and I know the joy of being a Father. My mom isn't worried about her son dying in war, she can be a grandma, and I get to come home to my family every day from work.

However, there are thousands that never got that chance. To those, I am saddened to the core by that thought. To the Families who have lost someone I pray for peace in your family. To those that have paid the ultimate price for our nation, you will be forever in my thoughts and prayers. God Bless you and God Bless The United States of America!

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