Some Army ROTC members’ decisions to participate influenced by 9/11

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    The 10th anniversary of September 11 will be a day of quiet reflection for those in TCU’s Army ROTC program.

    Students and staff plan to observe the anniversary in different ways, but some will ponder how much their lives have changed since that day.

    Cadet Robin Cole, a junior nursing major, remembered hearing news of the attacks in her 5th grade classroom. At first, she and her classmates did not understand what was happening.

    “We didn’t know what the World Trade Centers were, but eventually it all sunk in,” she said.

    Cole’s first reaction to the news was fear. Her father was serving in the Marine Corps.

    “I remember thinking, ‘What about my Dad? How is this going to affect him?’” Cole said.

    Her father was deployed soon after, causing big changes in Cole’s family. 

    “I had to grow up a little sooner,” she said.

    Cole always wanted to pursue a career in the military. Her father is still in the Marine Corps, and her mother is a former Marine. Her father’s service in Operation Iraqi Freedom contributed to Cole’s decision to join ROTC. Cole said she felt an obligation to follow in his footsteps as an Army nurse.

    “It might not be at the front lines, but I want to give back by serving our soldiers,” she said.

    Cole will spend September 11 at her stepsister’s wedding in Tampa, Fla. Because her stepsister is a recent graduate of the United States Naval Academy, the wedding will be attended by several military personnel, Cole said.

    Cadet Robert Morales, a graduate student in the Army ROTC, was a first-year college student in 2001. While studying for a morning class in the library, he overheard other students discussing what happened. Morales could not believe what he heard.

    “I really didn’t know what to think,” he said.

    Prior to Sept. 11th, Morales was not involved in the military. He thought about joining from time to time, but was cautious about making a decision, he said. Unlike Cole, no one in Morales’ family has served in the military.

    However, the attacks motivated Morales to become involved.

    “It really put more incentive behind my decision to join,” he said.

    Morales said he felt the events of that day were just as important now as they were in 2001.

    “I think it’s had a resounding effect on the American people, in the sense that it has united us in a common cause,” he said.

    Morales said he plans to spend Sept. 11 with his unit in Abilene, Texas, where he serves in the Army Reserve. Morales said they will reflect on the meaning of their commitment and share their experiences of the past 10 years.

    Major Joel Coleman, a training officer for TCU’s Army ROTC, was also at school on Sept. 11. At the time, he was a student at Fort Benning, Georgia, as part of the Infantry School. Coleman said he remembered seeing footage of the attacks in one of his morning classes.

    “We knew our lives had changed forever,” he said.

    Coleman said it seems almost surreal that this year marks the 10th anniversary of September 11.

    “I can’t believe it’s been 10 years,” he said.

    However, Coleman said he felt great progress has been made in the War on Terrorism since that day. Specifically, he cited the assassination of Osama bin Laden as a vitally important event.

    “That was a major turning point for us,” he said.

    Coleman said he plans to attend the 9/11 vigil taking place on campus this Sunday, and will be thinking of his friends who serve or have served in the armed forces.