On that night, I was bare-chested, clad in jeans and tennis shoes as I turned my back to a sliding glass door. The 25,000-pound truck bomb threw me to the floor. My neck, back and arms were ripped apart with glass and concrete. The wounds were serious but didn’t hit any vital organs. I was medically evacuated home.
By July 2, I was healing well, still covered in bandages, but kicking with energy. Much to the surprise of many, I went out and bought $500 in fireworks. The truth is I was pretty confused and thinking of walking away, but I planned to celebrate our freedom with pride.
On the 4th, as I lit off thousands of firecrackers, a young boy approached me. Seeing the bandages, he asked, “What happened?” I told him some terrorists blew up a bomb to try and scare us away. Wide-eyed, he said, “Wow, what are you going to do?” I told him I was planning on calling it quits. He cocked his head to the side in deep thought and then said, “Well then, I guess if you quit, they win.” That young boy changed my life; there was no way I would let them win.
That was 16 years ago, and at almost 27 years of service, I am still on active duty. Every 4th of July, I think back to that young man and his words of wisdom and I celebrate the freedom of our Nation with great pride and joy.