Remembering September 11th – Twenty years later

Sometimes writing is healing.

Sometimes it is hard.

In the past, when I think back to September 11th, I think about how much my life has changed.

My thoughts focus on my experience. How I’m not the same person I was twenty years ago. In September 2001, I was a senior in high school. And truly I was lost not having a plan for the future. My worldview went a few hours radius from my hometown and nothing more. I remember one of my classmates telling me how he remembered standing in the World Trade Center on a past vacation to New York. Before September 11th, I had no idea what the World Trade Center was. I had no idea the United States had enemies or how our country was affected by the world. My life was different then. I can always see how much changed after that day. Nothing ever was the same.

But this year’s reflection is different. This year September 11th brings with it a lot of pain and very little focus on myself. Maybe it is because it is the twentieth anniversary. But more likely the timing coincides so close to the withdrawal and collapse of Afghanistan. A war that began directly from the terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.

And as one of my close fellow veteran friends and I spent some time talking about our experience in Afghanistan our conversation led us to talk about how different the world might look if someone had not been murdered two days before the September 11th attack.

Ahmad Shah Massoud was murdered on September 9, 2001. Twenty years ago, today.

You may have never heard of Ahmad Shah Massoud and may wonder how one person could change the course of an entire war. But as we talked about his legacy of fighting against the Taliban in the 1990s. He fought for change in Afghanistan before most in the world knew of struggles happening within their borders.

I learned about Ahmad Shah Massoud in my deployment training. He was part of the culture and history of Afghanistan. And at the time I did not make the connection of how the timing of his death was pivotal in the attack that happened days later. But even then, I knew that somehow the war would have been different had he survived the attack that took his life. Because with that event. Everything changed. The hope he brought to the people of Panjshir and the rest of Afghanistan could have changed everything.

Panjshir Province was the last Province to fall to the Taliban.

Earlier this week the Taliban took claim to the capital and raised their flag. And while resistance fighters are hiding in the hills. It feels like an uphill battle.

So, this year, remembering all we lost on September 11th is harder than it has been in years past. In the past, I always could look with a hope thing would improve in the future and those who had died would be avenged.

But this year is different. I find myself staring at the loss and wondering what it was all for.

This weekend will be a somber one. I can already feel the pain of that day coming as we come closer to it. And while some might try to change this day as a day of celebration. A holiday of sorts. For me, it will be a day to remembering those who died that day and those who fought and died in the wars that happened because of September 11th.

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