Bennett's Blog

Ten Years Later - I can still remember what it felt like

Bennett R. Coles | September 11, 2011

Today is the 11th of September, 2011. We all know what happened 10 years ago. Seeing the images all over the news today, I was surprised at how vividly I remember the shock I felt that day. Followed by the anger. Followed by the sadness.

My life was affected directly by these events, as I was shipped out weeks later to be part of the Canadian military team tasked with setting up our mission to Afghanistan. The whole thing was surreal, and there was none of the bravado many ignorant people think is the only emotions soldiers feel as they prepare for battle. We knew that Canada was in for a tough mission: we knew that many of our colleagues wouldn't be coming home. We hoped that we would make it safely through our tour no matter where it might take us. I was lucky, staying well behind the lines, but that "lack of action" didn't make me feel disappointed or cheated in any way. Like most soldiers, I never sought combat. But in the post 9/11 world I was happy to be able to make a difference in a mission that mattered.

For the record, I have always opposed the US mission to Iraq that came a few years later. But I have always supported what eventually became the NATO mission to Afghanistan, where a brutal dictatorship was ousted and a terrorist haven was destroyed. Afghanistan certainly isn't perfect today, and I never had any illusions that we'd make it so, but it is a better place than how we found it.

And seeing those ten year old images again today, I remember why we went in the first place. It was an evil act committed that day, directed in the most cowardly fashion against innocent civilians, and it by itself did nothing to improve any lives anywhere in the world. We live in a different world because of it - better or worse is hard to say. I just hope and pray we'll never have to go through a decade like that again.

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