Challenge Yourself And Remember 911
Tomorrow is the 12th anniversary of the events of 11 September 2001. A day when much of the modern world was shaken by a series of unexpected events. A day that changed the direction of many of us and directly or indirectly affected a huge percentage of the world’s population.
Like many, I remember exactly where I was. I was on temporary duty at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, training with the US Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights. I remember boarding the Twin Otter aircraft, taxiing along the runway and being told that air traffic control had grounded all flights. We then sat glued to the TV not understanding what we were seeing or how it would change our lives.
Many innocent people lost their lives that day. Since then, many more have lost their lives or suffered life changing injuries while fighting for their nation. Tragically, civilians have been innocently caught up in the atrocities, the fighting, the wars. These lives have been lost as our governments strive to keep our streets safe and to offer us the ability to have our freedom.
In August 2011, just weeks before the tenth anniversary of 911, I travelled from Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province, Afghanistan to New York City. I was on my 2 week R&R with my then girlfriend (now wife). We went to Ground Zero, we bowed our heads and remembered. I stood on the Brooklyn Bridge, viewing the iconic skyline yet missing the 2 skyscrapers that had been New York’s signature view.
Yet, while there, I also felt the positivity of those around. While we must bow our heads and remember, we must honour the sacrifices that many brave men and women have made. Honouring the policemen and firefighters that gave their all, the innocent victims caught up in the buildings or on the planes, the troops that leave their families behind and all the others that we might forget. We must stand up and live our lives, not allowing them to have died in vain.
In our own small way, my team, Jump4Heroes, strive to do just that. With my team mates, Deane Smith and Spencer Hogg, we’ve stood on the edge of the infamous north face of the Eiger and bowed our heads in silence before leaping from the mountain face and flying our wingsuits in formation. Last month I BASE jumped from the Liberty Memorial World War One Museum, carrying the US flag before presenting it to a Vietnam Veteran. Next year, the centenary of the start of World War One, we plan to do more. 2014 will also see the end of combat Operations in Afghanistan – as we remember the start of one war, we finish another.
So, as another 911 anniversary is upon us, I challenge you to honour the fallen by stepping outside of your comfort zone, pushing your own boundaries and doing something special. I challenge you to live your lives and enjoy the freedom that many paid the ultimate sacrifice for. Standing tall, being who you are, challenging yourself and embracing your freedom is the right way to honour these people.
What challenge are you going to undertake?