I remember it like it was yesterday - the day when the planes hit the World Trade Towers on September 11, 2001. I enlisted in the military in October of 2001, just one month later, and began basic training in February 2002 in the United States Army - Airborne division. Stationed in Fort Richardson, Anchorage, AK, I was deployed twice. My first deployment was to a small Italian Forward Operating Base Salerno in the south eastern province of Khost, Afghanistan. I can still remember the whistling sound and the subsequent boom of the rockets that would come in from the mountains, which happened often and in the middle of the night. A six month stay quickly became ten months.
After returning from Afghanistan, I was promoted and moved to 172nd Stryker Brigade where I became a Team Leader. My second tour was about a year later in 2005 to Iraq and lasted about 16 months. Starting in Mosul, we worked with other government agencies as well as patrol missions. We were tasked with helping to rebuild the communities we were staged in, and often came across individuals and families in need of dire assistance. We are lucky to live in a country where although expensive, we can generally find and receive necessary medical aid. We have the freedom to choose where we go and when. We retain the right as human beings to speak up and protest without fear of repercussion. Many individuals in our world do not have such basic freedoms as we possess in the United States of America. We should not forget those who have and continue to sacrifice for the freedom of all American citizens (and many others across the world). Soldiers, police, firefighters, nurses, doctors…we are eternally grateful to all people that provide a service for our country to keep it free and safe from evil.
I was one of the lucky ones to make it home safe in March 2007. I have been and will continue to use my experiences to better my life, my family’s life, and the lives of those around me. I will never forget.
what it means to me…
In my mind, there was no greater job at the time of my enlistment than becoming a Paratrooper in the Army. I wanted to protect my family, my country, and the ideology of freedom, the expectation that all men, women, and children should be free to live without fear. The American flag is very important to me, as it’s a symbol of a belief in that freedom…something intangible yet so meaningful. The American flag represents integrity, honor, vigilance, perseverance and justice. It represents purity and the utmost good of mankind. It represents freedom from tyranny and evil. The American flag, to me, stands for all that a person and country should strive to be. The American flag is the foundation that has been with every soldier during his/her darkest and most difficult times. The American flag is a symbol of love for our country, despite who leads it. It depicts respect for those that have fought for that freedom, for those that have given the ultimate sacrifice for our children. It’s the embodiment of unity for Americans; the fact that despite our color, race or religion, we are all citizens of this great nation; and we should fly our flags with pride. It’s for this reason that I endeavor to supply all Americans with American-made flags; so that they may join me and their fellow patriots in supporting our country and spreading respect for those continuing to fight for our freedom and protection.