A Day to Reflect and Remember

By SGTMAJ James J. Schickel

To mark the upcoming anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, there will be an array of special television and radio broadcasts, and national and local newspaper and magazine reports.  In addition, many websites and other online sources will have gathered historical material for the occasion, and a few new books have been published to commemorate the tragic events of that day.

It is certainly appropriate and fitting for the nation, and our leaders, to pause and remember those who lost their lives on that horrific and tragic day, when terrorists brought death and havoc to America with their surprise attack.  But as we reflect on that tragic day, let us not forget to remember all those military service members and families that have made and continue to make the ultimate sacrifice for this country.  Many gave some, and some gave all.

Statistics reveal that over 3,000 people were killed during the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., including more than 400 police officers and firefighters, (History.com, 2013).  Since 9/11, the total amount of American lives lost in Iraq is documented at 4,486 (icasualties.org, 2013), and the total amount of American lives lost in Afghanistan is documented to be 2,266 (icasualties.org, 2013).

In the past decade, Americans have had more confidence in the military than in any other federal institution, according to a Gallup annual poll; more than three quarters of Americans say they have great confidence in the troops.

The kudos extend to other uniformed public servants as well.  “After 9/11, there was a spike in American pride in all our uniformed services, including firefighters and police officers,” says Peter Feaver, a professor of political science and public policy at Duke University who has written books on society’s views of the military.

But we’re failing our service members when they come home. The recession has hit Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan particularly hard.  Their unemployment rate is at least three points higher than the national average and climbs to nearly 20 percent for male Veterans under the age of 24, according to a report from the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (2013). Military experts blame a “crazy Vet” stereotype that has persisted since the Vietnam War.  Some employers are stepping up to make the call to hire Veterans.  Community awareness is the key to the success of a healthy transition and reintegration for the Veteran community.

Sept. 11, 2001, is anything but a long-lost memory for many, many Americans.  Anyone who has been to an airport or endured yet another emergency-evacuation drill at work needs no reminder of how its effects endure.  But there are more subtle influences, the ones lodged just below the surface that shake loose at the slightest provocation.  So, whether most people recognize it or not, 9/11 has changed their lives in one way or another.

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