There will be no shortage this week of reflections about 9/11. People will share where they were when it happened, what they were doing, who they were with, and how they felt. On September, 11 2001, America changed. The world changed. I changed. The events of 9/11 brought me back in to military service, as it did for many who had previously served. There were also many young bucks that signed up to do their patriotic duty as well. Many of us that answered the call were in uniform, sometimes far from home, during 9/11 remembrances that would follow in the years after the original attacks on that date. I think I have been away from home 4 or 5 times on a 9/11, twice serving out of the country.
Below is a post that I originally wrote and shared three years ago while in Kabul, Afghanistan. It was an amazing sight to behold. I have some video of that night, of the tracers flying across the sky overhead, the commotion in the streets just outside the barrier walls of our compound, the noises, the lights, and the people around me at the time. I won’t share those videos here. But in one video of all the crazy commotion, you can hear me and another Soldier talking calmly the whole time, debating why leadership was going to move our smoking area from where it was to somewhere else. We were having a normal conversation while bullets flew over our heads across the night sky. Neither one of us were very concerned about our surroundings. All the chaos that Afghanistan had to offer became normal for there, at that time, in that place. It wasn’t until later, when it was time to transition to a new normal, that didn’t include war, that I found a challenge like nothing else I had ever faced. I’m still dealing with that challenge. I miss the chaos. And still don’t know what my new normal is.
Enjoy the post that I originally wrote and posted on 9/11/2013. Good day. God bless.
9/11 in Kabul
for original post: https://davidegeorge.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/911-in-kabul-afghanistan/
Twelve years ago today America changed. We weren’t looking to change, we didn’t necessarily want to change, but it’s a change we were forced to go through. We will never be the same again. I’ve followed all the posts today on Facebook in my news feed about all the remembrances, the pictures, the support for both the victims of the attack and the Service Members still fighting a war that’s supposed to be winding down.
As 9/11 approached, we double checked ourselves, made sure everything was good, and stayed vigilant. No worries. We’ve been doing this for a long time. But I think what happened today caught everyone off guard. No one saw this coming.
As I came out the door of the building to throw a box in the dumpster I could hear the commotion on the streets outside the walls of our compound. It was after dark. I could hear people yelling, horns blowing, and noises that sounded an awful lot like gunfire. I could see flashes of light in the air. I noticed that everyone outside was calm. Looking to the sky, but calm. Why wasn’t anyone taking cover? We are in a war zone after all and I know for sure that is gunfire I hear. After my trip to the dumpster, I walked to the gazebos where the daily gossip and b.s. stories could be heard for the day. That’s where I found out what was happening.
The Afghanistan soccer team beat India to win its first ever international trophy in soccer. The people were celebrating. Since I don’t follow soccer, I’m not sure, but I think this puts them in the competition for the World Cup. The Afghans have something to cheer about. And they were cheering. Fireworks and real gunfire. Hollering in the streets, horns honking. I could only picture it from where I was. I sat at the gazebos for about an hour listening to the people on the other side of the walls. I watch tracers fly over the camp and could hear the rat-a-tat-tat of the machine guns. Don’t these guys know those rounds have to come down somewhere? I saw one of the Afghanistan interpreters sitting out there. She was smiling, taking it all in. I could see the APPF (Afghan People’s Protection Force) guards at the gate. They were happy, shaking hands with some of the Afghan workers from our compound that walked by on their way to their quarters for the night.
Afghanistan is a nation that has been torn apart for the better part of 34 years by war and government unrest, Soviet occupation, Taliban choke hold, corrupt politics, and more. And for many years before that this country has dealt with tribal and ethnic divisions as well as religious unrest. The Afghanistan soccer team has brought some unity and happiness to this otherwise dismal place to be. The people here have a reason to stick their chest out, something to be proud of. I am truly happy for them. I hope they win again. Maybe with less gunfire next time, though.
I heard a sports announcer say one time, “Winning changes everything.” I don’t believe that to be true in the broad perspective of life. Tomorrow will be the same as yesterday, only today was different. But I do know that here, for today, winning a soccer game meant the world to a nation. And I’m glad I was here for it.
Good day and God bless.