This is one of a handful of pieces written by NMPolitics.net columnists reflecting on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Ten years ago this week I reported for duty as a second lieutenant at The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia. On Sept. 10, 2001 we held routine formation for accountability, and the staff planned for us to visit the Pentagon the next day.
On the morning of Sept. 11, we were informed our trip to the Pentagon had been cancelled, so I began to head off base when I turned on the radio to hear that a plane crashed into one of the Twin Towers in New York City. My immediate thought was that it was a random accident, but by the time I reached my friend’s house, the television was broadcasting the second plane crash into the south tower.
My heart sunk with worry as I feared the very worst – is our nation under attack? My cell phone was going crazy and I was ordered back to the base, so I grabbed my “trash” and headed out as fast as I could.
When I arrived at the gate it was a surreal scene with a completely secured gate guarded by fully armed Marines. They were not allowing anyone on the base. So I was turned away and headed back to my friend’s house, where we both watched in horror as the rest of awful events unfolded.
The next day we were cleared to enter the base and, as I drove over an I-95 overpass, I noticed that there was absolutely no traffic going north into the D.C. area. At that point, the true impact of the moment hit me.
The officers of our training class continued on with our six-month training program. Everyone realized that we were no longer training for a hypothetical war – war was upon us, and the tone of the training was different from my previous 10 years of training during my enlisted service. All of us knew we would soon be leading our nation’s military men and women into battle with this new enemy who declared war on us with their cowardly actions on Sept. 11, 2001.
I also remember when I first heard the news of the first combat death of a lieutenant in our training company, and that moment had the same impact on me as the moments of 9/11.
A job well done
As we go forward, I can reflect upon 10 years of military service during this post-9/11 period, and I know the true sacrifices of the military and intelligence agencies that have kept us safe during this time. Behind every glory moment of an Al-Qaeda member captured or killed lays a military member or intelligence operative who has paid the ultimate sacrifice.
There are also family members who struggle to single-handedly keep a household afloat, and children go to bed in tears as they unbearably miss their loved ones who are deployed overseas.
These are the sacrifices that our service members voluntarily and unselfishly agree to do on behalf of our country. So on the 10th anniversary of the attacks on 9/11, I salute the true heroes who have killed Osama Bin Laden and the countless other leaders of his cowardly crew who were responsible for thousands of U.S. civilian deaths.
A job well done, my friends.
Luévano, a renewed Republican, is a retired Marine Corps officer and an Artesia native who is currently working in the Albuquerque health-care sector. He graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2001 with bachelors in both political science and economics and from the University of Kansas in 2008 with a masters in public administration. You can reach Luévano at johnnyluevano.com or find him on Facebook.