These are a few stories of soldiers and sailors who have served since 9/11. The stories are honest and touching, and they highlight people who have contributed more than their fair share.
Ryan talked about how news organizations are treating this anniversary, and I’ve been living through those complex decisions. I work for The New York Times company and design under The New York Times banner, but our office is located in Gainesville, Fla., and my work is published internationally. It’s interesting because all of the articles and photos we are using come from people who lived and still are living the effects of the attacks in the most obvious way possible — people whose city came under attack.
I don’t know what that’s like, but I’ve been doing my best to empathize and communicate that feeling all week. It’s pieces like this, that I cry in the middle of reading, when I really understand the gravity of the post 9/11 world and how lucky I’ve been. None of my friends have been killed in Afghanistan or Iraq, but some of them are still there or will be going back. When I manage to utter prayers, they are always at the top of the list.
My brother, who is 20, has never had a friend go to war. He knew a lot of my friends who have gone, but he’s never had the same connection. He never had to face the idea that one of his friends would be killed in action. That changed this summer when one of his friends joined the Navy. That friend has since graduated basic and is in school at the base in Pensacola, Fla. My brother doesn’t like to talk about it, and I can tell from his uncharacteristic silence whenever I bring up the topic that it scares the shit out of him.
And honestly, it scares me a little, too. I’ve always known the the men and women who go to war are kids — young, inexperienced, and not consulted by the people who put them in danger — but it’s different now that there’s at least one sailor who I will always picture in a Cub Scout neckerchief, bouncing off the walls and playing video games with my brother.