September 11, 2011 marked my one year anniversary working for the USO.
10 years ago changed my life in ways I never saw possible. I was a scared shitless 16 year old who thought the world was crashing down around me. Now here I am 10 years later, 26 years old, confident in a world that literally is crashing down around me.
The horrendous acts on September 11th sent my generation, some my friends, to war. In a roundabout way September 11th also sent me to a warzone.
My coworker Sarah York set up a table in our center with a board for anyone to write a message to remember the lives lost on September 11th and in OIF and OEF. She set out tea lights so they could light a candle in memoriam. It touched my heart as I watched a Marine pilot walk over and look at the lit table with curiosity, then realize it’s purpose, and take the few moments to light a candle and then bow his head for a couple precious seconds afterward in prayer.
Also on September 11th Outback Steakhouse came to Kandahar and cooked their food in the DFACs. It was AMAZING! We had the most delicious steak I have had in a year, spinach artichoke dip with FRESH bread, and cheesecake that I almost had to fight a dude over to get the last piece. Randy, York and I all agreed that Outback made the meal especially for our anniversary dinner.
Upon returning to the center, Randy, York and I wanted to get a picture to commemorate our year, no sooner had Richard our boss taken the snapshot than the rocket alarm siren blared. We fell to the floor and laid flat on our bellies. I guess the Taliban wanted to celebrate our anniversary as well.
When we cleared the center, York and I blew out all the memorial candles because we had no idea how long we would be in the bunker. After the “all clear” siren, we re-entered the center and began tidying up. I started to throw away the old candles, and York said, “Stop, each of those were a prayer too.” So in complete silence York and soon Erin joined to relight every candle. We filled the table with candles all suddenly much more aware that even though September 11th was 10 years ago and we’ll never forget that date, every single day lives are still being sacrificed.
|The tealight memorial with lit and burnt out candles|