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  • Bill Owen

9/11 Memorial & The Heroes

Originally posted in 2013. Updated in 2020.

9/11 is one of those moments in history that will never be forgotten and a moment where everyone remembers exactly where they were. I know a lot of great men and women who answered the call in the years that followed and volunteered for military service or as first responders. Multiple combat deployments later, years of patrol, and thousands of lives saved, you can’t deny that they are exactly the type of people that make our country great!

Seeing it all in person is such an emotional experience. It’s hard to really visualize the true impact of that day and the lives that were lost though videos and news clips. It’s also hard to understand the true heroics that took place that day until you’re there. Whatever you have to do, visiting the 9/11 memorial this is one of the things that as an American you must see. Words can’t really paint the picture adequately.

One of the messages that we preach at Competitive Outcomes are the life lessons that drill team and Honor Guard can teach you and where is can bring you. 11 years after the attacks, a training mission brought us to the memorial. It’s deeper than that though - while others were flocking the military recruiters offices, my peers and I were too young. For many people that were either already in or getting ready to go in to high school at the time, 9/11 was a catalyst that drove them to JROTC – the most visible way to show your patriotism and help honor the heroes that would keep emerging, many of which paid the ultimate sacrifice.

For those of us that joined JROTC in the coming years, I know we all had the honor of participating in so many funerals for these heroes. I like to think that I remember them all, and so many shared the same story – servicemen killed that attend the same high school as you, just a few years older than yourself.

For me the most memorable was a dedication ceremony for park named after Army Ranger SGT Bradley Crose. He was one of my older sister’s classmates that deployed shortly after 9/11 and gave his life for his country during the battle of Roberts' Ridge (after fallen Navy SEAL Neil Roberts) also called the Battle of Takur Ghar.

In the following years Navy SEAL Master Chief Britt Slabinski and Air Force Combat Controller TSgt John Chapman would receive the Medal of Honor for their actions that day. To quote The Sandlot, “Heroes get remembered, but legends ever die.”

After the 9/11 Memorial, we were able to visit St. Paul’s Chapel - A church right at the foot of the towers, which was somehow spared while other buildings around it were destroyed from the debris in the collapse. In days after the attacks, many first responders were able to get meals and sleep in the church as they rotated in and out during the search and rescue effort. Scratches and other marks left from police duty belts and construction workers tool belts alike can still be found throughout the wooden floor of the church.

A new tower has been built and it stands 1,776 feet above the New York Streets. It is like the phoenix that rose from the ashes. More than simply a building, it is a symbol.

No matter how hard you fall; when you get knocked down, you get back up – EVERY TIME. That applies to America, life, and drill.

- Bill Owen


Bill Owen is the founder and lead trainer managing and conducting: Competition Drill Team Training Camps, Military/Police/Fire Honor Guard Training Courses, Funeral Operations Seminars, Coaching/Train The Trainer Seminars, and Leadership Devolvement with Competitive Outcomes - an International Drill & Ceremonies Training Company.


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