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Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Impact of September 11, 2001

Here's a rare Sunday blog to commemorate September 11.
So, I am at the gym the other day doing my cardio workout and I am watching TV. There is a story on CNN about a former Boston College Lacrosse player who was working as an equities trader at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, when one of the hijacked planes hit. His name was Welles Crowther. Welles was remembered for his heroism and bravery through the red bandanna that he always kept with him since he was a young child. On this particular day, he wore it around his nose and mouth as he rescued person after person. After the plane hit the South Tower, he called his mother to say that he was alright. He then proceeded to take control and he directed people to the stairway helping them the safety. He stayed in the South Tower getting people out until the building collapsed. That story evoked a great deal of emotion in me as I related it to one of my children. All that I could think about was being a parent of such a child with absolute devastation for the loss, but absolute pride for their heroism and bravery. First off, both daughters are fine, thank God. However, right after September 11, 2001, my daughter, Lauren, said that she wanted to do more for her country. At the time, she was a 14 year old who wanted to give back to her country after seeing the coming together of a nation post 9/11. Lauren held onto that desire for the next several years. She went on to apply to the Naval Academy to fulfill that dream of doing something more for her country. She was accepted and graduated after four years in May, 2009. She did a seven month tour to the Middle East almost immediately after graduation and is now preparing for her second tour. I had the opportunity to join her on her ship for the final eight days of her first tour from Pearl Harbor to San Diego. I was permitted to stand watch with her on the Bridge for each of her four to five hour shifts, mornings, evenings and nights. What amazed me was at any given time there was a handful of Navy personnel on the Bridge, a few officers and the rest were sailors of various rank, but all in their twenties. These young men and women have been entrusted with a half of a billion dollar ship and a crew of almost a thousand. On one of those nights standing watch, I asked what was the most harrowing experience during her tour. Most she couldn't discuss, but she said for her personally, was being on the Bridge and being harassed by Iranian gunboats in the Persian Gulf. As one of the officers in charge, you have to determine if they are intending to do harm versus simply harassing you. It is amazing what the young people in the military do for us day in day out that most people don't know or even care to know about. They are in the same category as a Welles Crowther, brave men and women who joined the military knowing that they could be in harm's way at any given time. Yet, they do it for love of country and their fellow Americans. Wow! My heart goes out to Welles Crowther's parents and to all who lost someone on that horrific day in September as well as on days serving our country and each other. We will never forget their sacrifice and the love of country.

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