Rembering heroes

I was just nine years old when our country was attacked on Sept. 11.

Although 12 years has passed, I still distinctly remember my mother sitting me down and attempting to explain what had happened. I listened. I nodded. I even cried. But in reality, how could a child ever fully understand such a horrific situation?

In the days that followed, former President George W. Bush declared the War on Terror. War was an equally hard concept to grasp. So instead of trying to wrap my little fourth grade head around it, I pushed it to the back of my mind.

It wasn’t until last year that such thoughts resurfaced. I had the privilege of becoming friends with a veteran. Enlisting immediately after graduating high school, he joined the marines and went on to complete three tours in Afghanistan.

Having grown up in a quiet, little town on Lake Michigan, his experiences were as foreign to me as the country he had served in. Our friendship grew over the retellings of his captivating stories, and it ashamed me to think that I had been so blind for so long.

Since opening my eyes, I’ve realized the unfortunate situation of so many veterans. Once soldiers return from war, their country often forgets about them. Without a uniform on or a gun in their hand, they l become invisible.

On any given night, more than 300,000 veterans are living on the streets or in shelters in the U.S., according to Rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide are climbing. Men and women leave the front lines only to face equally dire conditions on the home front.

On the anniversary of Sept. 11, take a moment to not only remember the individuals who lost their lives at the hands of terrorism but also the men and women who so courageously answered their country’s call. All political ideologies recognize bravery.

On behalf of The Torch, I would like to thank all veterans, in particular Ferris’ veteran community, for their service. While we may never truly understand your sacrifice, we are no less grateful.