By Senior Airman Nicholas Larsen, 47th Flying Training Wing
/ Published September 11, 2021
Laughlin Air Force Base holds a 9/11 memorial ceremony to remember the tragic event that took place 20 years ago on Sept. 11, 2021. The September 11 attacks, often referred to as 9/11, were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the militant Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States of America on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class David Phaff)
When wounds heal, especially large ones, they scar, leaving us with the memories of the event that lead to the wound. The wounds inflicted serve as a reminder, never letting us forget what happened 20 years ago.
As time has passed, generations of Airmen have joined, served, and since retired. Each of them have different views on how events of 9/11 affected them.
“I was driving from Laughlin to San Antonio when the towers were hit. I had stopped for some food during the drive and watched on TV as the towers fell. I was in disbelief that terrorists had hit with such magnitude,” reminisced Joe Graves, 47th Civil Engineer Squadron assistant chief of firefighter training. “When I got to Lackland in San Antonio, the lines to get into the base were very long, we had gone to FPCON (force protection condition) Delta.”
The attack on the world trade center hit Mr. Graves harder than many.
“Being in the Fire Service and seeing the attacks and all the guys who ran in, it definitely affected me to take my job seriously,” Graves said. “It's a big deal in the fire department, thinking about it now, I still have goosebumps.”
Two decades have passed since the attacks and many Airmen serving now were not alive to witness the towers fall. Their reaction may not be as visceral but we’re impacted all the same. A1C Isaih Morales, 47 CES firefighter, is one such Airman.
“Following in the steps of the firefighters from 9/11 is a really big motivator because most of those firefighters knew they weren’t gonna make it home that day,” Said Morales, “it pushes me to be as dedicated to the craft as they were.”
For other Airmen, the influence of 9/11 is more than just motivation to hold up the honor of those who went before them. Master Sergeant Richard Morris, 47th Security Forces Squadron non-commissioned officer-in-charge of logistics and Readiness, was in his freshman year of highschool when the towers were attacked and watched the events unfold live.
“Seeing the troops go, it was like, ‘Man, I wanna be a part of that,’” said Morris, who was motivated to enlist in the aftermath of the attack. “I feel like that was our generation’s term to defend our nation and our interests.”
“The most important part of 9/11 to remember is the unity,” stated Morris. “One thing that makes America great is our unity, no matter who you are, I think that once our country unites we can tackle anything.”
As the years pass the pain of loss will dull, but during this day of remembrance, we look back at all the sacrifice and the pain and say we will work past it, we will strive to improve, and we will never forget.