Reflections on 9/11: Gary Fry

For Vietnam veterans like myself, the Vietnam War was full of days that will never be forgotten. Not understood by every U.S. citizen, veterans understand that certain calendar dates open the floodgates of specific memories as we remember friends who are no longer here. Each veteran has a different reason for fighting for our great country, from fulfilling a sense of patriotic duty, to following in their parent’s footsteps to wanting to travel to places that most people would rather forget. For the veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn, no single date resonates more than Sept. 11, 2001, a reminder of the catalyst that began their war.

Veterans of all generations can recall that day and the raw emotions of anger and grief that came with the realization we had been dealt a terrible blow on our own soil. We sacrificed our time, our bodies, and our futures to ensure that our families and friends could live in a safe and free nation, yet hatred and war still found its way to our homes. From the smoldering ruins in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, Americans were galvanized against a common foe and united with a renewed sense of patriotism.

As when America was attacked by Imperial Japanese forces at Peal Harbor, the destruction of the World Trade Center impacted each and every American, regardless of age, creed or prior military service. A defining moment in American history, we stood strong and resolute in the face of hopelessness and fear. Brave men and women volunteered to take up the call of service and defend their homeland.

America’s military has now been engaged in combat operations continuously for more than a decade. Individuals like Dakota Meyer and Salvatore Giunta showcase the selflessness and bravery of this generation of service members. They fight regardless of political bickering in Washington, D.C.; they serve because they believe in their mission to defend people they have never met. While some may not agree with the wars being fought abroad, much like during the Vietnam War era, men and women continue to lay down their lives to defend the ideas and values that our great nation was founded upon.

The events of September 11 lead to our military personnel being deployed to the Middle East and other areas of the world, and has also created a generation of military personnel needing care and benefits. In addition to fighting on the battlefield, we are also waging a war against suicide in our active duty and veteran communities. As a Vietnam veteran, I understand the challenges that come with reintegrating into society. Many Vietnam veterans have battled post-traumatic stress disorder and feelings of depression and hopelessness throughout the years. As we connect with younger service members, our mission is to tell these men and women that they are not alone. We want them to know that there is someone else who understands what they have seen and experienced.

As we remember the terrible toll of 9/11, we must also thank and honor those service members who continue to carry the fight to those who would do us harm. We must also renew our call to honor America’s sacred covenant to care for our veterans and their families when they return. AMVETS will remain steadfast advocates for this noble cause on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and in communities across the nation. Today, I call on my fellow Americans to join me in renewing our commitment to those who have and continue to serve, and to remain vigilant in our fight against those who threaten our home, our families, and our values as Americans.

AMVETS Past National Commander Gary L. Fry who is an Army veteran who served during the Vietnam War.