It’s hard to believe, but it has been 13 years since the attacks on September 11, where nearly 3,000 people died in a series of four, coordinated attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Penn. Nine days later, President Bush declared the War on Terror–a war we’re still fighting.
Today is a stark comparison to 2001.
In 2001, I was in the fifth grade, staring at a TV like the rest of the world, unfortunately old enough to understand everything that was happening. I watched as the news station replayed the planes hitting the World Trade Center, I saw people jumping from buildings, I stared at the gaping hole of destruction that was once a wall of the Pentagon, and I saw a field in Pennsylvania full of debris and fire because the passengers on that plane said “no.” I watched both towers fall, and I looked on as people ran from the chaos. I saw people crying, bleeding, and looking for their friends, family, and coworkers. I witnessed people dying.
Today, I went to work. I listened to people talk about the rain, “Sons of Anarchy,” the whole, “It’s Thursday! One more day…” deal, and what they’re grabbing for lunch. If I look on Facebook or Twitter, people are living their lives. They’re the same people I sat with in my fifth grade social studies class 13 years ago. Now, they’re getting married, having babies, going to law school and med school and grad school–and nobody would be doing any of this without the people we forget about.
Since the War on Terror began, more than 6,800 soldiers have sacrificed and lost their lives to protect us from September 11, 2001, happening all over again. Brave men and women–husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, friends–went to battle there so we don’t have to battle here. We forget about them. It’s a really shitty thought, but it’s true. They’re out of sight, out of mind, and we show our respects when they come home, whichever way that may be.
However, Mike Viti has chosen to remember those heroes in a rather remarkable way.
Mike is a 2008 West Point graduate, a former Army football captain, a decorated war veteran, and an all-around American badass, and he has dedicated himself to walk one kilometer for every soldier killed overseas during the War on Terror. For a little perspective, Los Angeles to New York is 4,470 kilometers, and that doesn’t even come close to honoring all 6,803 soldiers who we have lost since 2001. Along his way, Mike signs the names of each fallen soldier onto an American flag so they will never be forgotten.
I know, I can just feel the patriotism flowing through your veins.
So, go throw on America’s home colors, drink a Bud heavy from an America can, listen to Dubya give the speech of our lifetime, and more importantly, watch this video of Mike hiking for heroes.
To learn more about Mike and his awesome story, click HERE.