How The Veteran Community at Viqtory is Honoring 9/11

Everyone remembers exactly where they were on September 11, 20 years ago.

The veterans and military spouses at Viqtory pay special tribute to everyone affected by the Sept. 11 attacks.

Where were you on 9/11? Those that lived through it, even as small children, remember exactly where we were the day of the September 11 attacks. In some way, everyone was affected by it. 

Even though it’s been 20 years, our nation still feels the pain of that horrific day. Yes, we are more resilient because of it, and yes, we do continue to march forward. But September 11 is a day we pause, acknowledge and reflect on how it has molded us into who we are today.

For VIQTORY, it set the course for our employees to be together as a team to continue to serve military families each and every day since December 2001. We all have our own special ways we honor those lost in the tragedy. 

We asked our veteran community how they were impacted by 9/11 and how they plan to honor the day with their families. We wanted to share their responses with you:

Mike Asper / Art Director / U.S. Marine Corps Veteran

Mike shared that he was in Monessen High School in Mrs. Mrlack’s 10th grade geometry class. He said, “It was a catalyst that influenced my decision to enlist in the Marine Corps, which was one of the most life-changing decisions I’ve made.” In the Marine Corps, Mike’s position was a 3531 Motor Vehicle Operator. He said that he typically drove the trucks on convoys throughout Iraq, other times operating the radio or manning the machine gun. 

This September marks the 20th year since the attack, are you doing anything to honor 9/11? 

“I believe the best way to honor the victims of 9/11 is to prevent something like this from happening again. I try my best to educate myself—and any others willing to listen—of the reasons why 9/11 happened, and support anyone that will champion and fight for non-interventionist foreign policy.”

How do you honor the day as a family?

“We live less than two hours away from the Flight 93 National Memorial, but have never actually visited it. I plan on changing that this year and attending the annual observance this September 11th.”

Greg Hough / Senior Account Manager / U.S. Marine Corps

Greg remembers that he was on leave with his family in Pittsburgh “at Dave and Busters in the Waterfront of all places.” During his time in the marines he was a Motor-T – a truck driver. Like many who joined before the attack he knew when those planes hit that he would be going to combat at some point somewhere.  He said, “I joined the Marines in March of 2000 during peacetime and knew that my future was going to change immediately, which it did.  I served two combat tours in Iraq with the 3rd Battalion 5th Marine regiment.”   

This September marks the 20th year since the attack, are you doing anything to honor 9/11? 

“Typically something at school with other veterans and their families in the community. On a few different occasions, I have volunteered to speak at my kid’s school to give a veteran’s perspective and would be happy to do so again.”

Rachel Pitts / Manager of Client Success / Military Spouse

Rachel was in her 10th grade computer class.  She said, “This was before cell phones were smart and I consider myself fortunate to have been able to witness that historic event on live news from the classroom tv…I remember thinking it was fake at first–like some sort of childish denial that a person would intentionally commit such a heinous act.”  In 2001, Rachel’s father had just retired from the U.S. Marine Corps. For that reason, she wasn’t concerned at the time that he would be sent to war, but she remembers many of her friends had active duty parents or family members. 

Rachel is currently a military spouse, married to an active duty Marine whose MOS is a heavy equipment engineer, currently working as an instructor teaching Marines and Soldiers basic engineering and equipment repair. 

She reflected on how it impacted her, “I will never forget the swell of patriotism and pride for the bravery of the NYFD and NYPD and the passengers on the flight that took down the terrorists before it could reach the Pentagon for months and years following 9/11/2001.  The “Never Forget” posts get shared less and less each year, but I still cry every time I read the voicemail transcript that Brian Sweeney left to his wife while on flight 175.  Probably because I’m married to a man who has been deployed during this war and it’s easy to visualize myself receiving that same message. I’m not sure if the events of that day changed me, I think they more so shaped me into who I am today. I continue to hold the deepest respect for our military, police officers and firefighters.  Anyone willing to give their life to save another’s–and not let power sway their judgements–is a hero in my book.”

This September marks the 20th year since the attack, are you doing anything to honor 9/11? 

““We may host a BBQ with friends and invite everyone to wear red, white and blue and play patriotic-themed games. Nearly every person in my husband’s unit–and in all branches, really–joined the service in a time of war. I can’t think of a better way to honor those who both lost and gave their lives on that day and in the 20 years since than by surrounding myself with the ones who signed up to continue to defend our nation.”

How do you honor the day as a family?

“My oldest kid is 5 this year, so I bought a children’s book called “Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey” about a retired fireboat that was called upon to help battle the flames of 9/11/2001. It’s age-appropriate and will help start the conversation around why people choose to do bad things, but also why people choose to do good.”

Darryl Williams / Sr Director of Client Operations / U.S. Army

At the time of the event, Darryl Williams was serving as a Staff Sergeant (E-6). “I was at the Education Center on Fort Leonard Wood when I remember going down to the counselors’ office and noticing that planes had impacted the World Trade Center.  Immediately I received telephone calls to stand up force protection as once it was declared a terrorist attack forces were stood up for protection from other attacks…Professionally, it changed the effects of my military career for the next 16 years.  From transitioning from a military policeman to the world of recruiting, the attack of 9/11 impacted the rest of my military career in various ways.”

This September marks the 20th year since the attack, are you doing anything to honor 9/11? 

“Reflection and honoring the men and women who lost their lives that day and who have fought for the last 20 years in the Global War on Terrorism.”

Rich McCormack / President, Government Solutions / U.S. Navy

Many might be able to relate to Rich’s experience. He reflected that, “Prior to 9/11, terrorism and wars, at least since the Civil War, had happend outside of the US, so for me, 9/11 made me feel vunerable and unsafe living everyday life. The silver lining in 9/11 was the immense patriotism and coming together of the country. Every house had an American flag hanging and it seemed as if everyone had a new appreciation for what it meant to be an American.” 

At the time of the tragedy, Rich was living in Sewickley PA. He and Chris Hale were trying to raise money to start Victory Media. He said, “That day I was home working, when my wife told me to turn on the television and I saw the horrors of planes flying into buildings. It was all very confusing at first, for we originally were told that a small aircraft had crashed in the twin towers, but quickly thereafter, realized we were being attacked when the second plane hit the other tower. I also remember how blue and perfect the sky was that day, as if time had stopped and my senses were on overdrive trying to recalibrate the importance of life.” 

Rich was stationed in the Republic of Panama on the Panama Canal in the Navy as a Naval Supply officer from 1991 to 1995. His role was making sure all Navy personnel got paid, and he managed all the Navy contracts in Central and South America.

How do you honor the day as a family?
“I think the one thing we all have to ensure is that we don’t forget that this can happen again and we need to continue to live life like it matters. Teaching young people the importance of history and why these things happen, are important lessons.”

Chris Hale / CEO / U.S. Navy Veteran

Chris remembered the day clearly. He said, “It was a gorgeous September morning. I was sitting in my basement (Suite B) working on investor presentations for starting Viqtory. Rich [Co-founder of Viqtory] called me and asked if I had seen what was happening. I hadn’t. I went upstairs and turned the TV on and was amazed and saddened to see the events unfold.” Chris was 31 and had only been out of the Navy for a year and a half when the devastating day took place. He had been a Naval Flight Officer on a P-3C Orion as a Lieutenant. When asked how it impacted him he said, “It made me mad. It made me think hard about going back onto active duty. But with a pregnant wife and starting a new business it just wasn’t in the cards.” Chris believes that there was a silver lining to the tragic event in our history. He said, “Our country was united like never before in my lifetime. You couldn’t find a front porch in America that wasn’t proudly displaying an American Flag. A common enemy can do that.”

This September marks the 20th year since the attack, are you doing anything to honor 9/11? 
“I will remember in my own way.”
How do you honor the day as a family? 
“Dinner time conversation with my kids.”

Scott Shaw / VP of Business Development, Co-Founder / U.S. Navy

Scott served in the Navy for 21 years. His first 4 years, he was an Aviation Fire Control Technician, serving on Aircraft carriers and fixing electronic warfare systems on the A-6 Intruder aircraft. The last 17 years was spent in the Career Recruiting Force; he retired as a Navy Senior Chief.

It was Scott Shaw’s second week on the job at Viqtory , working out of his home office in Raleigh, NC . Viqtory, Victoria Media at the time, was in the beginning phase of creating the very first issue of G.I. Jobs magazine which was scheduled for release in January 2002. He said, “Our challenge at this point was launching a veteran transition magazine that needed the advertising support of corporate America.” He was making phone calls to potential clients who would support the magazine by advertising their hiring needs to our veteran transitioning audience when the attack took place.  

He said, “Initially like most I was in shock, could not believe what I was seeing. My daughter was too young to understand what was happening, and my wife was very scared and confused. The first few days were very surreal, and I felt President Bush showed his leadership in a big way and united the country. I was very proud to be an American!”

How did it affect you or impact you personally? Did it change anything for you? 

What changed for me is my gratitude and respect for our first responders. That day many had made the ultimate sacrifice, and the rest spent countless days risking their health and safety. I will admit up until then I probably took them and the jobs for granted. We continue to thank those who served, we need to do a better job of thanking all first responders who are risking their lives daily, they truly deserve it.

It’s strange to think that it’s been 20 years since September 11, 2001. We want to continue to reflect and have conversations about 9/11 with our friends, families, and co-workers. It was the catalyst for many changes that affected some quite personally. 

In spite of the horrific actions, there was a small silver lining that Chris Hale wrote about in this LinkedIn article. It created a shift in patriotism and unified the country like no event has in years. 

If you’re not sure of how you would like to reflect, we put together a list of events taking place in various communities online and in person to help give you some ideas. Most importantly, take a moment to remember those that made the ultimate sacrifice.

9/11 Reflection

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