The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Americans feel called to serve

Growing up in El Paso, Texas on a military base, Wesley Lavender knew he wanted to join the army from a young age.

He recognized that there was a chance he would go to war, but he had always imagined fighting in a small conflict, similar to the situation in Panama.

However, in the months following 9/11, Lavender realized that he would probably have to fight in a war.

“Before [9/11] it was like another job that I was going into — just a career,” he said. “Now, there is more of a commitment, it’s more serious and I had to consider it [enlisting] a little more.”

Lavender began training for the army through the ROTC program at SMU in 2008.

He will be commissioned in two years.

“It’s one of those things, I don’t want to go to war but I’m willing to go,” Lavender said.

Within the last 10 years, more than 5 million Americans have worn a military uniform, making the war in Afghanistan, called the Operation Enduring Freedom, the longest war in

U.S. history.

With such an increase in military involvement, President Obama refers to this period as the “9/11 Generation.”

For many soldiers and military families, that is true.

After the attacks on 9/11, Nick Brown, a current student in the Cox School of Business, decided he wanted to join the Marine Corps Infantry.

“Nobody in my family has ever been in the military, but I have always had a strong sense of duty to serve my country,” Brown said. “The attacks on Sept. 11 only deepened those feelings.”

He began training when he was 19 and completed training in 2003.

“I specifically enlisted in the infantry because I knew it would give me the best opportunity to deploy in a combat zone,” he said.

Lavender, whose father was in the army, believes he would still join the army despite his father’s enlisting.

Since 9/11, soldiers have found themselves returning to war several times.

And, Brown is one of them.

From 2003 to 2007, Brown returned to Iraq two times. On his

first deployment, he was in Iraq for 10 months. When he returned the second time, he was forced to leave early after being injured in a roadside bomb explosion.

Upon his return home, Brown was awarded the Purple Heart, which is a U.S. military award honored by the president for those who have been wounded or killed in battle.

“After being awarded the Purple Heart I had the opportunity to have lunch with President Bush, so I guess there was a silver lining in the end,” Brown said.

Although Brown was wounded in Iraq, serving our country is something he finds important and encourages others to do so as well.

“After 9/11 I had a much better appreciation of the freedoms that we all take for granted every day, as well as a deeper respect for those who continue to sacrifice in order to protect those freedoms,” Brown said.

For him, 9/11 is a day to remember friends who were lost in battle trying to protect those freedoms that were threatened after the events unfolded 10 years ago.

“Sept. 11 always reminds me of them and others who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.

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