By the way, I’m very aware of the significance of today’s date, especially since I’m about to get on an airplane and fly to a major airport.
On 11 September, 2001, I was an Army captain stationed in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was there to train National Guardsmen and Reservists on nuclear, biological, and chemical defense. I arrived at work that morning at Fort Douglas, on the University of Utah campus, to find everyone in the unit huddled around the television. The first plane had just struck. While we were still scratching our heads at the bizarre accident, the second plane struck, and amateur videos began to appear on the news. The 2002 Winter Olympics were about to kick off in Salt Lake City, and our military careers would change permanently. Not everyone in that room is still with us today.
Since that day, I’ve spent more time than I care to recall in west Asian desert countries. It’s not easy, but if I concentrate I can remember what it was to be a peacetime soldier. With less than two years remaining in my military career, I know I’ll never be one again. Will I ever be a peacetime civilian?
What if, as a nation, we pursued peace as fervently as we’ve pursued war for the past decade?