Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering How 9/11 Impacted My Life

The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.
And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
—Genesis 6:11-13

I'm reminded of what happened 13 years ago today.  September 11, 2001 will not easily be forgotten. I found myself telling my ten year old about how drastically my life was changed because of that event. We discussed this before he went off to school. To my chagrin, he wasn't even aware about airplanes crashing into the twin towers. Why wouldn't teachers tell young kids about this? Because it's too horrific and could produce a negative impact upon young minds? Perhaps. 

I told him about how I was working as a cop with the Dallas police department when 9/11 happened. My time in the Armed Forces before becoming a police officer had burnt in me a deep love to hate terrorism.  I was studying terrorism books and counterterrorism measures before IED was a household name. 

Opportunities opened up because of a "new" security threat to our nation.  I felt I had what it took to protect others. Soon, I found myself back in the military -- this time the Army Reserves. Then, when the war in Iraq was about to begin, I was given an opportunity to protect US diplomats in the US-led "Roadmap to Mideast Peace." This was a contract with the US State Department. A small group of us were tasked with escorting ambassadors and US personnel into the West Bank and Gaza Strip. I lost three coworkers in Gaza City. 

The Federal Air Marshal Service offered me a position, which I initially turned down. At that time, there was great need for plainclothes, undercover federal law enforcement officers who would fly on commercial airplanes. We were tasked with shooting and killing anyone who tried to hijack any more planes. I told my son, "I lied for a living. When someone asked me what I did for work, I lied."

"Why?" he asked.

"Because what if that person was a terrorist or what if a terrorist sitting near me would hear that."

We wanted the element of surprise.  I still remember being told by several instructors to shoot anyone six times in the back if they ran towards the cockpit, and then to shoot them six more times when they fell to the floor. 

Iraq with the Army Reserves most definitely impacted my life, and the life of my family. All wars are controversial. Violence is and should be repulsive to civil and moral people. Despite the political beliefs or support of intelligence records, the bottom line is US soldiers, airman and Marines were tasked to fight. This has affected warriors and their family members in incredible ways.  

I remember when my good friend was killed. He and I served together in a tight-knit tactical unit years previously. Now we were both in Iraq together, but in different units. My wife knew Johnny too. 

There is nothing glorious about violence. Violence can be addicting, and it's necessary in order to win lethal confrontations, but violence is horrible. I can't stand violence although I know how to be violent. I've been trained to be. But violence and war is not natural. No one should have to endure it. Violent television, movies and video games are an insult to the spirit of God. 

I pray my children will not have to learn war or be involved with anything violent, but the world is violent. People are violent. There are evil people who do horrific, evil deeds. They need to be stopped. Warriors are needed to stop them. Thankfully, everyone doesn't have to be a warrior. Would that I could "retire" from the work of death and destruction and enjoy the rest of my years in peace. But, it is not so. I feel I still need to help protect those who do not have the capacity to protect themselves. Someone needs to be a protector, so while I know how, I will. 

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