We are devoting many posts today to the anniversary of 9/11, with first-hand accounts, insight, and commentary dedicated to that day seven years ago that changed our world.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/11/art.911iraq.jpg caption="U.S. Army soldiers salute three American flags, representing the three sites of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, at a ceremony to mark the seventh anniversary at Camp Liberty in Baghdad."]
Arwa Damon | BIO
CNN International Correspondent
“Hot, its always hot...” the soldier responded, the collar of his flak jacket soaked in fresh sweat, mixed with that of months of patrolling. We’d only been out an hour, already drenched in sweat, and we’re only carrying about a third of the weight that the soldiers are. Two hours after they return to their base in downtown Baquba, they are out again, flak jackets still wet from the previous patrol. They live on a combat outpost. Sleep whenever they can, work out at the gym. There’s no TV and very little escape from combat. For these soldiers the routine of 9/11 will be like any other day.
We were just embedded with the 2nd SCR in Baquba, and among other stories we’re covering, we were also talking to young troops about 9/11.
Part of me forgot just how young some of the soldiers fighting out here are, with all their gear on they seem much older than their years. The ones we were talking to were barely in their teens when 9/11 happened, too young to realize the global impact that day would have and how it would forever alter their lives.
“I was in the 8th grade I think. Art class. I didn’t know what was going on, they just sent us home,” one of them told us.
And now seven years on, they know it. For some it prompted them to join the military. For all, it shaped their military career. They are in Iraq fighting America’s so-called “war on terror”, though many not really aware that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.
The guys are exhausted. You see it in their eyes, in the way that they move, in their speech that seems to be in slow motion. They’ve been here for 13 months now and its taking its toll. They joke about the next deployment being Afghanistan.
And in the words of one New Yorker, they want America to know something on 9/11.
“Just know that we are doing the best we can to prevent anything like that from happening ever again.”
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