Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where Were You on September 10th, 2001?

Anyone alive on 9-11-2001 has a memory as though it happened yesterday of where they were the moment they heard the news of the day - "Terrorists Fly Planes into WTC and the Pentagon". But, do you remember what life was like the day before? I do, only because the future consequences of 9-11 would demand that I recall this moment in time. Below is part of what I delivered at the funeral of CPT Benjamin D. Jansky. The events of 9-11 would eventually lead to both of us serving our tour at separate times in Iraq. His tour did not end with a joyous homecoming on earth, but with a joyous homecoming in heaven. His tour ended on July 27, 2005. Incidentally, his tour ended on my third wedding anniversary. The last time I saw Ben on this earth was when he came to our wedding. The next time I see Ben will be a similar occasion, when Christ returns for His Bride, the Church.

September 10, 2001. I started the first day of my Pre-Command Course at Ft. McCoy, WI. That evening, Ben drove out to meet me, I believe it was about a 2-hour drive, but for Ben, it was worth it to be able to visit a friend – a former battle buddy. We went into the town of Sparta, ate dinner, and shared about how our lives were coming along. The next day was Ben’s birthday, so I got him a card, and an old-style hand-held Mattel football game. This was pre-Gameboy or Play Station Portable technology. It was the kind where each player is represented by a little green or red LED line and to run the length of the field, you would wrap the 2” wide screen about 10 times. Ben looked at me a little confused. I saw it as a game from my youth, and since Ben represented youth to me, a great joke about his age. I only now realized, that the trademark “Ben’s confused look” was due to the fact that he was too young to remember those types of games.

Well, of course, the next day I got up early and class began promptly at 0730. But, by the time our class had hit our first break about 0810, our enemies were mounting an unprovoked attack. Returning to the classroom, and seeing a close-up of what I thought was a small hole in a large unfamiliar building, I asked, “What’s that?” The response was a plane just hit the World Trade Center in NYC. From the look of things at that particular moment, I thought it must have been a small commuter plane. From the angle of the camera, and the close-up shot, the damage didn’t look that great. We turned off the television and continued training; only to have class interrupted a few minutes later by someone who demanded that we immediately turn the television back on. Our instructor waited to complete his thoughts, and then turned it on to discover the horrors of the second plane. It was only then that we all realized what was happening:

9/11 – our generation’s Pearl Harbor. 

Ben’s life and mine were about to change course from anything we had experienced or planned up to that point.

Following that day, Ben and I continued to call each other, sometimes we communicated through email. As most military people of similar ranks do, we would use each other’s ears to air out our complaints about our superiors, our subordinates, and the overall operational tempo. We would wonder about when it would be our turn to serve in the Global War on Terror.