Looking back

The question is always the same -- where were you on Sept. 11? The only thing that varies is the answer.

Five years ago today, I was sitting 300 miles off the coast of California, aboard the U.S.S. John C. Stennis -- CVN 74. At that time, I was enlisted in the U.S. Navy, the greatest known to this world. I was waiting to return home from combat training. We were preparing for our Western Pacific Tour, a.k.a. WestPac.

On that fateful day, we were told that we might not go home, we might not get to see our families again for a very long time. That's because, unlike people around the world, we knew that we were going to war and that the world as we knew it was never going to be the same.

Because of that day and the events thereafter, our country has changed. As a veteran, I think we have gotten stronger. On that day, we were brought together in ways our country hadn't known in more than 50 years. No matter their race, religion or sex, people came together to help their fellow man. People cried, people prayed and people paid what they could to help those who needed it.

Another result of that day was the governmental changes that Americans deal with on a daily basis. Carry-on items that were once assumed safe can no longer be brought on our planes. People can't freely roam our military bases and governmental offices. People can't go to Mexico or Canada without a passport. All of these and more are results of the tragedy that occurred that day.

I think that all of the measures are exactly what was needed to help ensure another event like Sept. 11 never occurs again.

I think in some ways the government is still too lax with people. They shouldn't allow any type of carry-ons unless it is life threatening. They can require powdered baby formula for people needing to feed their children. Hair gels and lotions are not required for relatively short plane rides. And the chances of your luggage getting truly lost are slim to none.

No matter how prepared we think we are, there will always be those people out there who will try to thwart our way of life. Americans need to try and live life to the fullest.

Enjoy your days. Help those who are less fortunate and support those who are fighting for the freedoms you enjoy.

Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are out there protecting America. Protecting you and me. And protecting our future.

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