Jim wasn't the kind of guy who considered himself brave. He lived his ordinary life working his ordinary job and spending time with his ordinary friends. He went to church, he paid his taxes, and he enjoyed a good steak from time to time. He was the kind of guy who would openly admit that he took a great deal of his freedoms and comforts for granted.
He was 21 the day the Towers fell; the day his world came to a standstill.
Jim normally didn't turn on the radio while he went through his usual morning routine. But something compelled him to do just that on that particular morning. As he stood in his bathroom brushing his teeth, he heard the DJ announce that a plane had crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. He couldn't believe what he had heard. How could that kind of accident happen? Why would a plan be flying that low so close to Manhattan?
He switched off the radio and ran to the living room. Upon turning on the TV he immediately saw the column of black smoke rising from the first tower to be hit. He watched in horror as a second plane hit the South Tower. Jim's hands covered his mouth as the shock washed over him.
Jim was nowhere near New York City that day. He was nowhere near the Pentagon. He was nowhere near that field in Pennsylvania when that fourth plane hit the ground. But he heard the stories of bravery from those places.
He heard about the rescue workers who were on the scene as the towers fell. He heard about the men and women on Flight 93 who refused to let the hijackers of their plane use them as another weapon to take out an American symbol. He heard about the volunteers who gave up their time, energy, and money to help out any and all of those in need.
Jim went about his day as he normally would. He went to work and did his job. He gathered with his friends that evening. And like most everyone else, he was numb. There was a part of him that wanted to stop doing everything. That part of him wanted to sit on his sofa at home and just watch the news. But there was another part of him that knew that would accomplish nothing.
During the following days, when more stories of bravery came across the wire, Jim knew that continuing his life status quo just wasn't good enough anymore.
No, Jim wasn't the kind of guy who considered himself brave. But he wanted to be counted among those whom he did consider brave. Three days after 9/11, Jim went to the Army Recruitment Office and signed up.
Jim still doesn't consider himself brave. But the men in his unit do.