by State Senator Dr. Mark Green (R-Clarksville)
Seventeen years ago, on 9/11/2001, I was preparing as the chief resident of Fort Hood Emergency Medicine Residency program to drive to San Antonio for a joint educational program with the Brooke Army Medical Center emergency medicine residents. After turning on the TV, I quickly called their chief resident and together we canceled the joint training to happen that night.
As one Army chief resident in emergency medicine spoke calmly with the chief resident of another Army emergency medicine residency, we knew what was coming.
We had both served in the Army prior to our becoming medical officers, doctors, and we both knew our classmates and the rest of the Army would soon face the challenges of war. We hung up wishing each other and our teams Godspeed. I would see him almost die in Iraq. We’ve lost touch, but reflecting back on that day I was honored to have him on the other line.
It’s hard to imagine now but there are young men and women who are enlisting in the Army in their senior year into the early accessions program, assuming it still exists that way, who were not yet born when our nation was at peace. Seventeen years of war. But, in all honesty, the war, at least from the enemy’s perspective has been going on far longer. It’s hard to say when it began for them. Was it 1979 when terrorists stormed the US Embassy in Iran? Was it Somalia? Was it the Embassy Bombings? Was it Beirut?
My time as a soldier is over. I now have only memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. Many authors have attempted to describe the camaraderie formed in battle but I’ve not seen anyone really get it right. If you haven’t experienced it, I’m glad for you because it means you don’t have to face a friend who can’t walk anymore knowing he gave so much more than you, or hug a best friend’s wife, knowing she will never hear the voice of her soulmate again and have to think the awful guilt of knowing you can still hug your wife. And dang isn’t it pitiful that you even had that thought.
I am proud of everyone willing to serve. I am honored to have served with you. Now, I peer through the window and see those of you still in with a sense of regret that I’m not there, the guilt of having made it home, the fear for each of you. That fear is even more real now as my son picks up the mantle. Having been a Second Lieutenant in the infantry myself so many years ago, I know what he doesn’t know. I also know I am proud of his choice.
As we reflect on the events of 9-11 and how it has changed ALL of our lives, my thoughts will be of the lives lost on that day, and the lives affected by it. I pray for those who still stand watch for our freedom. I pray for the families of the fallen and wounded. I resolve myself to ensure their loss–and their sacrifice–will never be forgotten. And I promise to do all I can in whatever capacity I find myself to ensure this nation is prepared to defend herself from just such an attack again. Sacred honor. Courage Never Quits, Can Do, All the Way, Rangers Lead the Way, and Night Stalkers Don’t Quit.
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State Senator Dr. Mark Green (R-Clarksville) is the Republican nominee for the 7th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.