Like Sept. 11, the fight against terror affects total force

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jill Scheckel
  • 72nd Medical Operations Squadron
As September approaches each year, I am reminded of the events that transpired on Sept. 11th , 2001 and what that day was like for our nation. I imagine that each person reading this right now recalls exactly where they were, what they were doing and how they reacted when they heard the news of the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. I am able to recall that day vividly. 

For me, the immediate impact was that my husband was working at the Pentagon when the terrorist attacks occurred. Although I was fortunate not to lose a loved one, many were not. As time passes and September 11th becomes a more distant memory, I hope that our nation will not forget the lessons learned from this event. It is imperative that we do not. Today, where we are fighting the Global War on Terrorism at locations around the world, we must remember that if we do not take an active role in combating terrorism, as we are now, we will again fight this battle on our own soil. I am reminded of this and the sacrifice it takes to fulfill this obligation each time a unit member deploys to fight for the very freedom that terrorists hate.

As leaders, supervisors and coworkers, we must ensure that our personnel recognize their role and subsequent impact upon the mission of the Air Force. This means that even our newest Airman must know that his/her part is vitally important and contributes significantly to our daily mission. It may not always be readily apparent or tangible, but we must convey this in a way where it becomes real. 

Advancing freedom is not a role restricted for military members alone. My husband, who was working at the Pentagon on that fateful day, was not serving in the capacity of an active duty member. He, like so many others, was working for the Department of Defense as a civilian serving his country. He did not sign up, as we military members do, to support and defend the constitution with his life. But, the reality of today is that our civilians and contractors do this on a daily basis...and do so with great pride.

It is important to me that we remember our past in order to better prepare and guide our future. I will always remember the great dedication, heroism, and bravery of our men and women in uniform, civil servants and contractors. Military members function with the reality that death is the ultimate price they could pay for their country. Today, civilians around the world are also serving their country and placing themselves in harms' way. 

With the pervasive threat of terrorism, the ultimate price for freedom may not be reserved for military members only, as evidenced by September 11th. This point is most notably reflected in the 184 individuals who lost their lives at the Pentagon, which includes military and civilian members from the Department of Defense and the Flight 77 passengers. That day served to strengthen our resolve and unity as a nation. We must continue to remember the lessons learned from September 11th, so that those who lost their lives did not do so in vain.