9/11 will forever be changed for me. Yesterday I attended the memorial service for Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss of Knoxville, one of the 13 murdered in Kabul trying to rescue Americans and allies from a terrorist overrun country created from a totally batched evacuation.
I sat in the stands among veterans and local citizens there to pay their respects and voice their outrage at this avoidable tragedy. I listened to Ryan’s commander speak of this funny, patriotic, inspiring 23-year-old who loved his country and duty so much that after having already evacuated, he volunteered to go back to help others. He arrived back on a Monday, and was butchered on Thursday by a fanatical religious extremist.
I spoke with the young members of his platoon and thanked them for their service and sacrifice. I watched his wife stand by his flag-draped coffin accepting condolences from perfect strangers filing by. I met privately with and held his mother while trying desperately to say some words of comfort as she inconsolably wept.
I presented his mother a red, white, and blue quilt of 13 stars and Ryan’s name embroidered in gold rapidly made with love by men and ladies of our church in hopes that every time she looked upon this quilt she new her son’s tragic sacrifice was remembered by not just her and her family, but also by those whose hearts and souls hurt for her.
9/11 is forever changed for me. In addition to remembering the attacks on our homeland, the murder of four in Benghazi, I now will forever remember looking into the face of a mother whose son was slain needlessly.