On September 11, 2001, I was working in my first real job after college in business management and was trying to knock out some routine dentist/doctors appointments and get back to business world domination. Before I left my house for the first appointment, I was watching the Today Show and saw a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. Like many, this moment burned into my memory; everything was different after that.
At 27 years old, I had gotten to a point in my personal and professional life where I was thinking, “so this is it huh?” I was curious if I still could/should serve in the military and get a little piece of what made my father so special to so many. Just prior to September 11, 2001, I had already begun the process to see if I would qualify to become an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, but I hadn't given notice to my employer and hadn't done the final contract paperwork to "ship" to Quantico. At that moment, on September 11, 2001, on the way to a routine appointment, I made the decision that joining the Marine Corps is what I HAD to do.
The following days, weeks, months and years became a blur. My fiancé and I went from a plan of staying in our hometown, getting married, and continuing our safe, quaint existence to something that looked VERY different. I ended up being part of the first Marine Corps Officer Candidate School class after September 11, 2001. It began on October 7, 2001, the exact day we started Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The next 10 weeks in Quantico were life changing and paradigm altering. I had never been average at anything in my life – sports, school, business, but that changed. The group of individuals I was surrounded by were truly the most exceptional people I had ever been around – Ivy League lawyers, Division I college athletes, people getting calls from their agents about joining NFL teams, Wall Street investors who left $500k+ per year jobs, farmers who left their family farms. The most incredible thing was, none of that really mattered at the time. Everyone was there to serve.
Now, over 20 years, three kids, and 10 moves later, I am a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps preparing to see what the next chapter in our lives looks like. My final reflection is similar to what I think about being involved with TMF: most people talk, complain, and get angry about problems and tragedies, while others dedicate all or part of their life toward doing something about it. “If Not Me, Then Who…”