By SRO Kjell Michelsen

Last Wednesday marked the 18th anniversary of the devastating attacks on the U.S. mainland on Sept. 11, 2001. Much has happened in our country since then. Today, unfortunately, our society, in many ways, has become increasingly polarized.

I am not sure if we ever will see a day again where we as a country truly could come together as we did in the days and weeks after 9-11.

9-11 was also for many a “Clarion Call” to sign up and join and serve in our armed forces. There have been several pivotal moments in our country’s history.

Moments where young men and women in a time of need have answered the call for a cause greater than themselves. I am not going to peel away the layers of politics that sometimes have been a source for many wars – wars that some can argue could have been avoided.

I will instead, in remembrance of that somber day, reflect on and honor those who indeed stepped up and took the oath.

A few years ago, when I was employed by Lockheed Martin, I had the honor of working with many veterans. I worked as a weapons handler and firearms instructors for Lockheed, and one of the guys, actually my supervisor, had deployed to Iraq with the U.S. Marines.

He was among the many who fought in the second battle of Fallujah, which turned out to be one of the bloodiest battles in the Iraqi war.

He would tell stories about brothers lost, the hell of house-to-house combat, even sharing a short film clip of him getting a haircut in the middle of a combat zone. It’s hard to be more Devil Dog than that.

We would also talk about the disconnect between many Americans and those who serve in a time of war. When you hear people gripe about trivial things, like their double cappuccino not being hot enough. Or that one of your favorite sports figures is out with a minor injury, that the avocados at the local grocery store are not organic.

It makes you stop and pause. Sadly, too many are blissfully removed from what thousands of our men and women in uniform are facing daily, serving in combat zones. Where the promise of a hot meal, not to mention a shower, is far from guaranteed.

Reflecting on this, one can argue that maybe it is a good thing that our way of life at home is quite normal. That people can enjoy their cappuccino, even complain that it could be a few degrees warmer.

The passing of time has a built-in “fade button” in our collective memories; hence me writing about that day of infamy.

Let us continue to remember and honor those who died on that horrible day. Let us pray for all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and for the healing of those who came home, some with scars, seen and unseen.

Until next time, have fun, be safe, and be mindful that the promise of tomorrow is just that, a promise. Make the best out of every day.