Where were you when the world stopped turning? To borrow singer-songwriter Alan Jackson’s line, a whole generation of Americans – millennials – have come of age since that horrific day when evil men reigned terror on this country. There are way too many media stereotypes of the 20-somethings living in mom and dad’s basement, and far too few accounts of the millions who have responded to these terrorist attacks by putting their own lives on the line for their country.
That’s right. Since 9-11, more than 2.5 million Americans have volunteered to join our nation’s military branches of service. If you think “dumb” or “poor” when you consider those who volunteer, you’re the victim of another stereotype. More than 99 percent of today’s recruits are high school graduates. About 10 percent of them have 15 or more credits in college before joining.
Service isn’t for everybody, and only a few are qualified. Health issues, a lack of education, and criminal records disqualify many who would like to serve. “There are 30-some million 17- to 24-year-olds out there, but by the time you get … to those that are qualified, you’re down to less than a million young Americans,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Brilakis, the commander of Marine Corps Recruiting Command, earlier this year.
Military service also means sacrifice. We’ve seen the heart-tugging pictures and videos of reunions of families with a mom or dad absent due to deployments. In the years since 9-11, our armed forces have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as involved in peacekeeping or joint military activities in more than 50 different countries across the globe. There are about 6,000 American who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan since November 2001.
So, what should we do on 9-11 this year? Three things:
- THANK A PROTECTOR: More than 400 of those who died on 9-11 were fire fighters, police officers and paramedics, responding to the inferno flames at the two World Trade Center towers. Our safety forces make great sacrifices to protect us also. Why not take some time and write a thank you letter – to a police officer, a fire fighter, or to a Marine, Army, Navy, Coast Guard or Air Force member. Let them know you are appreciative of what they do. Make sure it is postmarked on 9-11 too!
- VOLUNTEER: Since 9-11, Presidents Obama and Bush and our Congress have called upon Americans to remember that day by performing volunteer service. David Paine of PainePR came up with this idea just a few months after 9-11-01. Each year hundreds of thousands of Americans have committed to service. Visit these sites:
- PRAY: Here’s another line from that Alan Jackson song, Did you dust off that old Bible at home? On the screen at the end of the No. 1 movie at the box office in the U.S. this past weekend, “The War Room,” are these words from 2 Chronicles 7:14. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” God hears the prayers of those who call upon Him.
Our nation needs all this from us as we approach the 14th anniversary of that terrible September day.