What happened on September 11th for many was right out of the movies. At first, it was disbelief, a denial that something like this could actually happen here in the United States. However, it did happen, and now America has a second date that will live on for infamy. We’ve all been touched by the news reports, and our hearts go out to those affected: the innocent victims unprepared for this act of war. Although military personnel are always ready to be called forward to protect this great nation, the attack on the Pentagon was without cause and without warning. Along with their duties of being on the ready to act on the President’s orders, they too are fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters…real people with real lives, and now a part of a real tragedy. The Pentagon, although tactically a logical military target, is a place of work, and as such, should be considered a place of sanctuary, where one should feel safe in order to accomplish what one has been trained to do. The events of Monday have changed forever the feelings that many of us, regardless of our chosen profession, will feel as we go on with our lives. For right now, the feeling of empathy and support for those affected are greatly appreciated, and encouraging as they go on with their duties. The job at hand is not easy on any given day, but given the anxiety that we all feel, it is especially trying under the current circumstances. Rest assured that as we go on with our daily lives, military personnel are working around the clock to preserve our freedoms and to protect our way of life as directed by the President of the United States. The events of the day as described by Lt. Chris Ludmer, who was at the Pentagon when the incident occurred, help us understand the trauma that was felt and the need to support the difficult mission that military service members have in front of them. “Just as we heard the loud crash, a shock wave ripped through the building, shaking the walls and jarring our bones where we sat,” Chris said. “‘We’re under attack,’ and ‘We’ve been hit,’ were the first audible responses after a split second of stunned silence as our minds came to terms with what our bodies had just felt. What we were watching on TV in New York had just happened to us.” “As the evacuation was ordered,” he reported, “shouts and screams were heard as panic was spreading, many running in all directions through the corridors. One area of the building had lost power, was dark, and black with choking smoke. Word of the fires, and collapsing ceilings and bulkheads were carried throughout. Balls of flame and swarms of debris shot through the affected area, tearing through bulkheads, people, and even the spirits of those anywhere in the building.” Once outside of the building, it was beginning to set in that he and his coworkers had been attacked. “My mind thought of the trip to Pearl Harbor a few short weeks ago, and our tour of the Arizona Memorial. Was this what those sailors had felt on that day-the shock, confusion, surprise, and then horror at the slow realization that they had been attacked suddenly and without warning?” Just as in Pearl Harbor, preparations were then made for a potential second attack. Orders were passed to get even farther away. F-16 fighters out of Andrews AFB, their wings visibly packed with missiles, screamed overhead. Lumber looked up and thought, “This indeed was war….thousands of my fellow citizens were dead in New York, my headquarters was burning and collapsing in smoke and rubble before my eyes, and jet fighters were flying combat air cover over our capital for the first time in history.” But the next morning, with parts of the building still burning, smoke billowing upward in the pre-dawn hour, DOD workers, military and civilian, were heading in to work. “We were sending a message… You will not frighten us; you will not stop us, no matter what you do. Passing through security, I entered the south entrance of the building. Smoke and black soot were everywhere, a cloud choking me as I passed through. I walked through the NATO corridor, the end of which I could not see through the smoke. But I was not alone. Others were walking in alongside me, faces grim with determination. No one spoke, no one laughed. Only the echo of footsteps on the ash-covered floors could be heard throughout. I could see through the windows into the inner courtyard, where it was being turned into a makeshift morgue, body bags covering the lawns under the trees laid out in rows like at the national cemetery not far away. But I am here in our spaces, as is the ENTIRE front office. We smell smoke, we have soot all around, and firemen are yelling at us to leave, but we are here for now.” As many of our national cities are still patrolled overhead by military fighters and the presence of uniformed soldiers is everywhere, Americans should find comfort in the sound and sights of our actions to preserve freedom, not to restrict it. Your support for the military’s mission, are appreciated along with the concern and prayers, as a way of greater understanding the military community. I join Chris in saying, May God be with those who gave their lives in this, America’s latest war.
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