Never Forget 9/11 And Our Brave Soldiers

Photo Courtesy: Cronomer Valley Fire District

By: Todd Bartley, Managing Member, News Talk 104.1

As we honor those we lost on the anniversary of September 11, 2001 so many memories of that day come flooding back to me having lived in Eastern North Carolina at the time.

The one memory that has resonated with me is the effect it had on our friends and staff serving at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and so many military families across the globe.

The memory is of the call I received from one of our radio station staff members a short time after the first plane hit the World Trade Center, he said, “we’re going to war.”

You see, he was stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina home to some of our nation’s finest fighting men and women. Proudly serving as the “Home of Expeditionary Forces in Readiness” which means they willingly, bravely and courageously go first into battle.

Goldsboro is west of Kinston where my wife and I called home and hearing the thunder of military aircraft engines from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base still loudly echoes with me today.

Cherry Point Air Station is due east on Highway 70, they had aircraft roaring and soaring nearly immediately. Camp Lejeune came alive with activity since no one knew where the next attack would be coming from.

Having previously lived in the Tidewater Virginia area; the same types of activities were simultaneously going on there with the naval fleet and all the military aircraft in that region.

On that day just like every other day, soldiers who we and so many other Americans and those around the globe have great respect for; selflessly ran toward and into an unknown darkness and evil this country had never seen or experienced on its own soil before.

Those soldiers, many of whom were first responders, including fire firefighters, police officers, port authority police officers, medical personnel, veterans, active duty military and civilians running to the aid of others to try and rescue them. Others were trying to provide aid and comfort to those in need.

Instinctively, they ran toward burning buildings, injured co-workers and folks they had never met before. Complete strangers forged a bond on a flight that ended in a field in this very Commonwealth fighting for their very lives until giving their last full measure for each other.

For anyone to even attempt to misappropriate the term “soldier” is offensive to not only this author but to the countless markers at Arlington National Cemetery and every single family that has laid a loved one to rest for giving their full measure in service to this great nation.

For those that have served, you have my utmost respect and that of a grateful nation.

For those that have been wounded in service to our great nation, you also are the bravest among us. The radio stations proudly stand in support of you daily and with our relationship of the Wounded Warrior Project.

For those in my late grandfather’s generation who served in World War II (Indian, Burma China theater) and the Korean War, indeed you are the greatest generation.

We will never forget those who were sent to Vietnam and your sacrifice as well as those called to serve in the Gulf Wars and Afghanistan and the conflicts past and present all over the globe the United States leads the way in every day.

Those Expeditionary Unit Marines from Camp Lejeune are a special bunch; they go where others fear to go. They serve like no other. They set quite an example for the rest of the military.

Make no mistake, this author has had the good fortune to know those that have accepted the honor of accepting the call to West Point, the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy and yes the crucible of Marine Corps University and to know, work and play alongside those who CHOSE to serve this nation.

That staff member was indeed correct, after the unspeakable carnage of this day, 9-11-01 the country unified as one in grief which quickly turned to resolve to find those responsible and our brave soldiers went to war.

From the Marine Corps University archives, 29 October 2001 – The 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Anti-terrorism) was reactivated after nearly ten years. Operating out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, the unit, built around an existing infantry battalion, will combine elements of the Marine Security Guard Battalion, Marine Security Forces Battalion, and Chemical/Biological Incidence Response Force (CBIRF). A Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST) will also be formed to strengthen the 4th MEB (AT). Quickly responding to the need for such a force in the wake of the 11 September attacks, the Marine Corps formally announced plans to create an anti-terrorism brigade 4 October.

Those Marines knew their missions and carried them out faithfully, while looking after the brother to their left and their sister in arms to their right. These brave fighting men and women did so and do so now; as so many generations before them. Serving God, Country and each other while keeping us and millions more around the globe safe.

In that conflict, we lost some of our greatest treasure, our soldiers who gave their full measure. Others came home battered and broken in more ways than just physically. They all need our unrelenting care and support today and every day going forward.

Never forget, our freedom is not free; generations of soldiers have paid it forward and those serving today pay for it every day. We must never forget that.

Visiting Jacksonville, North Carolina this past summer, our family drove past so many homes of our precious Marines along with countless men and women who serve in our Armed Forces. While on the way to the beach we went past the Cherry Point Air Station and those roaring echos came back.

Thinking back on that day and the days that followed September 11 nearly 20 years ago now, with oversees deployments it made my heart sink. Knowing that almost certainly some would not be coming home alive.

A soldier is one who is selfless among so many other amazing traits.

Anyone using the word soldier to describe anyone who has not served in the military is being disrespectful to those who have served, fought, bled and died in the service of this nation.

It is quite simply ignorant and it disgraces the person doing it and the person referred too with that term.

It is shameful!

We call those who have served Veterans and they ironically enough have just two National Holidays when in reality it should be every day we thank them.

Veterans Day we honor those who serve and who have served.

My father has given more Memorial Day addresses in our hometown cemetery to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our nation.

Today especially, to those who experienced loss on this day in 2011 you are forever in our thoughts and prayers.

Today and every day going forward, when you see a soldier, a veteran or a family member of those who serve show them the respect they deserve.

They have obviously earned it.

We must Never Forget our soldiers as well as those we lost on September 11,, 2001.