Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering Where We Were That Day........9/11

I was getting out of the shower, getting ready to go to work. My slacks were hanging on a hangar on my bedroom door with the creases nicely pressed down the middle of each leg. I could see my shirt sleeve sticking out of the closet as it was nice and stiff from the starch with a matching tie draped on the hangar. I had been out of the Marine Corps for over a year by then but my clothes were still inspection ready.

I walked into the room in my towel to get dressed when I saw on the television what I thought was a commercial for an action movie at first. But then I realized commercials don't have "Breaking News" running on the bottom of the screen. I could see what had happened yet I was in disbelief. I could not comprehend how what my eyes were telling me. How can this happen? How can an airplane just smash into a building?

I saw the smoke, the flames, the people jumping out of the buildings. Then I see the second plane fly into the towers. By this time I realize that I just witnessed something awful, something that would impact the nation for the rest of our lives.

I jumped into my car and sped to my job at the Dodge dealership. I ran in thinking I was going to break the news to everyone only to find a room full of people with their jaws dropped and tears slowly building on their bottom eye lids. No one spoke, there was an awful silence. Needless to say we didn't do much business that day. We watched the big screen TV in the showroom most of the day trying to get as much information as we could. We closed the dealership early to pay respect for those who had died as so employees who had family in New York could go home and try to account for all their relatives in New York.

I completed five years of military service and had been discharged from active duty but still had a little under two years left on my inactive reserve commitment. I had not checked in with my inactive reserve unit since I had been discharged. My spouse at the time was scared. She had seen that reservist were being called up so I looked through my papers and called in to the Marine Corps Reserve Support Command (MCRSC) in Kansas City, MO like any good Marine would do. I didn't hesitate, I knew that that was what I had to do. Trust me, it wasn't an easy call to make. They asked my my name, my SS#, my date of entry, date of separation, all your typical military questions. I answered them all but then asked the female on the phone; By when do I have to check in by and am I getting deployed? I didn't want to ask the question but my spouse at the time had her nails dug into my arm and I knew she wanted me to ask.

I was told that due to what just happened the Marine Corps was going to have to evaluate the situation of each Marine reservist. She did tell me the Marine Corps had implemented Operation Stop Loss, witch kept active duty Marines in even after their contracts were over to to the recent events. But she told me she couldn't give me a definite answer. She said the Marine Corps would take several things into consideration before making a decision. They would look at my MOS(military occupation speciality), my time in service, my discharge and how much time I had left on my inactive reserve contract. She told me to wait for a letter that I would be receiving in two weeks.

I'm not going to lie. For two weeks I started running to get back into shape. My uniforms still fit me but the lifestyle of a car salesman did not exactly make me feel comfortable in my old uniforms. Two weeks went by, my spouse at the time checked the mail box every day. I honestly had to check after her because I thought that if the letter did come she might hide it from me.

So one day after work I check the mail. There is a big yellow envelope with a return address in Kansas City. I took a deep breath and walked inside my house. My spouse saw the big envelope and knew that it was THE envelope we were expecting. She started to shake. I slowly opened the envelope hoping that I would at least have some time to say goodbye to my family. There was some sort of card board object with a letter attached. My spouse looked confused. I read the letter. It said that my MOS was not in high demand and that I was not going to be affected by Operation Stop Loss and that I was going to be released early from my inactive reserve contract. The cardboard type thing was my final discharge letter and certificate.

My spouse hugged me in relief but inside I was in shock. I had expected to have received orders for deployment. I think deep inside I wanted to go back and fight for the injustice that had just happened . I told my spouse that I was glad that I had received my final discharge papers but to this day I wish those were orders for deployment. I wanted to serve my country once more.

Our country came together on September 11, 2001. After that day we were all Americans, flag raising, god loving, brother and sister hugging Americans. Our patriotism ran through our veins, we are wore red, white & blue and it was more than O.K. to sing God Bless America.

But nine years later, things have sure changed. Now if you carry a flag, wear red, white and blue while singing God Bless America on a day that is not the 4th of July you are considered a right wing extremist. Why? When did being patriotic become wrong. It wasn't wrong on September 11, 2001, why is it now. Can anyone answer that?

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