I wanted to take some time to reflect and write about events that transpired more than a decade ago. Thirteen years to be exact.

I was sixteen years old. I was more worried about who I was going to ask to Homecoming than anything. I was training for a JROTC competition that morning and had just finished showering the sweat from my run and walked into my English class.

Kids were glued to the TV which was on. Silence hung in the air. I turned to watch in horror as the news showed the clip of a plane striking a tower in New York City. What the hell was happening?

It wasn’t long until we realized that the United States was under attack. I was angry, sad, and I knew I had to do something.

I sat my parents down that night and told them I wanted to join the military. It took me bugging them almost every day until June before they agreed to sign the papers for me to enlist in the Marine Corps.

Again on September 11th of 2003 something happened. I was no longer a civilian. I earned the title of United States Marine. The first group of men to earn the title that day since the attack. The national anthem playing to a flag at half mast held a special significance for us that day. The feeling was somber as we reflected on just what we signed to do. We would be going to war.

Today as I write in reflection, I am wondering what did we fight for? I served almost eight years in the infantry and I look around the news and the way we live and have to wonder what I defended. Did we really wind up more free?

The short answer is no. We are not free. In some regards I even feel that those who attacked us thirteen years ago won. Before everyone starts jumping on me for being unpatriotic or an America hater, please allow me to explain.

Today, when you go through to travel, the TSA gropes you, x-rays you, and humiliates you. For what? A pretend sense of security? How many servicemen have been stripped out of uniform for this false sense? How many wheelchaired veterans? Children? This is not freedom.

Today, electronic communications are monitored and stored by the National Security Agency. What crime have we committed? Why do they feel the need to store when I ask my mom what plans are for Thanksgiving? Texting your wife or husband you love them? This is not freedom.

The Nation Defense Authorization Act has allowed for indefinite detention without trial, a lawyer, or due process if you’re suspected of any sorts of terrorism. This is not freedom.

The Department of Justice believes the President has the authority to kill you as an American citizen if you’re visiting a foreign country and suspected of terrorist related activity. This is not freedom.

Members of the United States Senate want to only allow approved journalists of their ilk as part of the press. This is not freedom.

Members of third parties running for office are still excluded from debates for offering differing views. This is not freedom.

Free speech zones are set up and in order to rally or protest you must be within those zones or be charged with a crime. This is not freedom.

Police look more and more like the military every day, and they infringe on civil liberties more and more. This is not freedom.

We need to learn lessons now before the window shifts again. These “safeguards” are not there to protect us, but control us. We are less free and no more secure. It is a false sense to keep us in line. It’s time to reject it and realize that every day we don’t challenge this is one more nail in the coffin for the great experiment America’s founders started.

So as you remember those who died that fateful day thirteen years ago, make a commitment today that you will not let our country fall down the path to oppression. Demand accountability. Demand rights be respected. Don’t let fear paralyze you into compliance for the false security offered by the comforting lies of politicians.

This is the only way we defeat those who want to enslave us. Demand freedom. Be free.


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