I was stationed at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California when 9/11 struck. Since CA is on PST we were still getting up and getting ready for work when it hit.
At first it was all unclear what had happened. But as I drove into work, listening to NPR, details started to come in.
I remember that it was a clear, beautiful day, and I remember thinking what a nightmare the day must be for those involved. Directly involved, because 9/11 would soon involve the whole world.
I had just completed the Russian Interpreters Course and was supposed to test that day but the command quickly canceled all testing. Instead we did what nearly everyone else did that day, we watched the news. It was weird for us language students, we had access to world-wide satellite TV so my class, we watched the 9/11 news in Russian. The Russians news casters were just as stunned and shocked as we were and seemed to genuinely care. I do not trust the Russian government one inch, but I dearly love the Russian people and they truly grieved on 9/11 right along with us.
Life changed on DLI that day, just like everywhere else. It used to be an open post, civilians drive through it on their way back and forth, from work, to home or wherever. 9/11 was on a Tuesday, and by the end of the day we had Soldiers manning the gates and checking ID’s. If you know anything about DLI you would know how unusual this was. DLI used to be more college campus than military base.
Six months after 9/11 I was actually in Russia. And the Russian people were amazing. For the first time ever, for the ONLY time, Russian people came up to me and spoke to me. “God Bless America” was what they said. I will never forget their sincere compassion.
On this 19th anniversary of 9/11 I want to wish each of you a blessed day. When we say, “Never Forget” I would like to ask each of us to remember who we are. That we are ALL Americans. And that if we can’t remember that, the terrorists won.
Be well, friends.
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