People in my small, Midwest, suburban neighborhood ask why I would want to go and join the fight against terrorism. Amid the raucous laughter of five little boys playing in the leaf-pile in my front yard, I will answer. My answer will not address why I want to however, it will address why I have to.
Imagine that you were part of an extended family. This family spans the whole country; from coast to coast and from border to border and beyond. Now try to imagine that another family that hated your family and everything you stood for maliciously attacked and killed thousands in your family right in their own backyard. I am barely speaking in metaphors here, and you probably recognize that. Let me zoom in a bit. I am a selected reservist for the United States Navy. Some people call me a weekend-warrior, others call me a part time squid. During the lulls of peace and complacency, reservists take at least a ribbing, at most a genuine lack of respect from our active duty brothers. I chose the last word of the last sentence on purpose. Brothers. When it comes right down to the details, dozens of people that were killed when the aircraft struck the Pentagon were wearing the exact same uniform that I wear. Right down to the patches. The only difference between my uniform and a few of those killed is the name tag and the ribbons.
My family has been attacked. My dedication to my wife and kids, my blood family, is not one weekend a month, two weeks a year and neither is my dedication to my Military family. It is a twenty-four hour, seven day a week dedication that in the lull between wars only requires action once in awhile. Now that we are at war, and we are, it requires more action. My dedication to my family remains, and strengthens my resolve to don my uniform, pack my sea bag and go where I am needed.
I know that I could be sent far away from my family, my friends and my civilian employment. I know that I could be sent where there is danger. But where I am going, they need me. My active duty brothers and sisters have much to do, they have new tasks that they have been directed to complete, but the old tasks remain. When I went to the active duty command for my two weeks of training a year ago last May, I was welcomed and trained so that I could return to Minnesota and train others. I have done that. We are trained, we are ready and we will help. It is not a matter of wanting to, it is our job. We aren't asking to be placed on the same pedestal as the New York Firefighters or the hundreds of rescue workers in New York, D.C. and Pennsylvania. We just want to do what we can, to do what we have been trained to do. Why? So that the boys playing in my front yard can grow up and never have to wonder who's plane that is flying overhead. So they don't have to wonder if there is a bacteria floating around in their classrooms, placed there by those that want to bring more death to the United States. I have to go because my work will help ensure that people can go to work and feel safe in their offices, in their homes, in their own backyards. I want my family to be safe and free. And if you are here in the United States, you are who I am talking about. You are my family. And I don't want to, I have to.