Hard to believe 18 years have passed since the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

At least it’s hard to believe for many of the adults who witnessed the attacks on television.

Not hard to believe for some of the teens now entering the armed forces. They were babies when it happened. Or were born after 9/11 happened.

They have lived in a country at war their entire lives. 

Now, they are enlisting in the military and will possibly fight in what some people refer to as America’s “forever wars.”

The Valdosta Daily Times met with a few South Georgia teens enlisted to serve in the military. To them, 9/11 is a date they know from history classes but do not have memories of the terrorist attacks that shocked Americans and the world 18 years ago.

They are enlisting in a military that still experiences the effects of Sept. 11, 2001. A military that still sends young men and women to the places connected to the events of that horrific day almost two decades ago. 

Just this weekend, news of a scuttled diplomatic effort of the President planning to meet with Taliban leaders for a new peace in Afghanistan is an echo of 9/11.

A day that remains a nightmare for those who remember it.

Planes smashing into buildings. 

One then the other. 

All caught by cameras. 

Large jets slamming into glass. Dizzying spirals of smoke. People jumping, falling, dying from the burning immensity of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers. 

Towers collapsing. 

An apocalyptic storm of smoke, ash, dust, cascading in a rush through the caverns of New York’s streets.

A third plane in Washington, D.C., ramming the Pentagon. 

A fourth plane forced down in the wreckage of a Pennsylvania field.

All planes grounded across the nation. 

The President on the move in Air Force One across the nation.

The near-biblical exodus of soot-covered New Yorkers walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. 

Grey posters littering a grey city seeking missing people. 

Thousands missing.

Thousands dead. 

Nineteen terrorists.

Terrorists dealing in death but their real merchandise is fear.

On this 9/11 anniversary, and for all of the anniversaries of that horrible day in the years to come, let us make Sept. 11 a time to recommit ourselves to being a nation of courage. Let us remind ourselves of the final words of our National Anthem.

That America is the land of the free and the home of the brave.

A place where wars now stretch on for decades. Where brave young souls who were too small to remember or were not yet born continue to enlist and serve in America’s forever wars.

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