Interactive gallery: Veterans explain how 9/11 changed their lives
September 11, 2014
Zachary Zerr Age: 31 Major: Computer Science “September 11th was a very powerful moment of impact on my reentry into the military. The first time I tried right out of high school I failed the basic training. I helped recruit my cousin and close friends from high school into the military. When I saw the tragedy I knew we were going to war and that I had helped send my friends into war. This led to a period of extreme depression for me. I couldn’t get past it, the only thing that got me out of that depression is that I decided that I was going to go back and make my involvement in recruiting my family members and friends justified. In 2005 I reentered the military and I served 8 years.” | Kayla Stewart/The Cougar
Sterling Dodd Age: 25 Major: Supply Chain Management “I was in 6th grade, in Texas history. I remember my teacher was super-patriotic. All of a sudden, they rolled in the TV and we just sat there and watched the news; 9/11 was a big reason why I enlisted.” | Kayla Stewart/The Cougar
Ralph Harrison Veteran Affairs Representative Air Force Veteran “I was actually working for the state of Georgia as a rehab counselor and I was on my way out to the field… I was stunned and in awe, I quite didn’t believe the first one … until the second aircraft came and I was just in disbelief.” Kayla Stewart/The Cougar
Lawren Bradberry Veteran Service Program Coordinator Age: 36 Army Reserves “I was in the Army serving in the 25th infantry division stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash. When I first heard about it I was doing some field training, which means I was participating in a training exercise where we camp out for 15-30 days so we didn’t have access to TVs or much of anything other than cell phones. I heard through the grape vine that something had happened, that some planes had crashed and no one had any more details other than that. I called my father to ask him what was going on and (when) he answered the phone he became very upset and began to ask ‘Where are you?’ (and) ‘We’ve been looking for you.’ Long story short, my sister is a flight attendant and we sound very similar on the phone and we couldn’t find her. We eventually found my sister and they sent us all home. We walked into our barracks and you could see everyone was excited to be back and not in the dirt anymore. People began to move into their floors and the building grew into this dead silence and all you could hear in the background was the different news reports. We were just in a state of shock. Once the dust settled, we just knew that it was time to go to war, and that’s what we prepared for. It made some people angry, but we resolved to do our jobs and do whatever was demanded of us as soldiers.” | Kayla Stewart/The Cougar
Joshua Philippus Age: 28 Major: Global Modernity and a minor in Arabic studies “I was in SRC, a student referral center in high school, and I was real good with Coach Kerry the football coach. (He) called me up to his desk and I saw his TV and asked him ‘What movie are you watching?’ and he said it wasn’t a movie… It was a very big inspiration.” | Kayla Stewart/The Cougar
Andrew Miller Age: 27 Major: Finance “I was in the 8th grade in keyboarding class, and I remembered the teacher turning on the TV and being really confused… It affects me everyday” | Kayla Stewart/The Cougar
The horrendous acts of Sept. 11 impacted many lives. Many realized that life was too precious, others became more patriotic than ever. For the veterans above, it inspired them to join the military.
“We were just in a state of shock,” said Veterans’ Services Program Coordinator and Army Reservist Lawren Bradberry. “Once the dust settled, we just knew it was time to go to war, and that’s what we prepared for.”
Regardless of age, whether in middle school or basic training, these veterans’ lives were never the same again.