Like most Americans, Charles and I can remember vividly exactly where we were on September 11, 2001. We had just gotten up and were getting ready for work. We were about to wake up our son Nick, who was eight years old at the time, to get him ready for school. For some reason, we happened to turn on the television. In horror, we watched as commercial airplanes were flown into the twin towers in New York City. Like many, we’ll never forget that day when we witnessed unimaginable cruelty, but also bravery and heroism beyond measure.
After 9-11, our country headed to war in Afghanistan, and my husband joined the US Army Reserve. As his wife, I was sick with worry. I didn’t know what to expect. I was concerned that my husband was volunteering to put himself in harm’s way. But, like so many Americans, Charles felt the call to serve -- to do his part for his country and all those who lost their lives on that fateful day. Although scared for our future, I was proud of Charles for his courage and willingness to serve.
For more than a decade, Charles has been a reservist in the Army. Two years ago, however, on the tenth anniversary of 9-11, Charles boarded a plane from Fort Benning, Georgia en route to Afghanistan. As many of you know, he spent six months in Afghanistan at FOB Pasab with the 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, and returned home to Hawai‘i last year.
In his time in Afghanistan, Charles saw the best and worst in humanity. He saw the selfless sacrifice of our American soldiers but also utter human depravity in Taliban insurgents. He saw peasant farmers armed with rifles escort their young children – boys and girls – to school; these farmers who live in mud huts and have no running water or sewer, believe so thoroughly in the importance of an education that they risk their lives to make sure their children can go to school.
Likewise, having children of our own, Charles and I believe there is no sacrifice that we wouldn’t make for our own children. So, on this day in particular, we remember, we honor, and we thank, all of those brave Americans who have sacrificed so much for all that we enjoy as Americans – from those first responders who rushed into burning buildings on 9-11 to those soldiers who have answered their country’s call to serve in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, God bless you and may God bless the United States of America.
With sincere gratitude and fond aloha,