Twelve years. It seems like it was just yesterday but twelve years ago today, our world changed forever.
17 USS Cole sailors killed and 37 wounded in an horrific and deadly terrorist attack.
Twelve years ago, a crew of heroes rose up to face and overcome an unfathomable challenge that changed their lives in ways none of them ever imagined. Many of us still grapple with the lingering issues caused by that event but we have not let those challenges conquer us. We are stronger and better than before because we know the cost of freedom. Freedom is not free and what we did twelve years ago today, and in the years since, has helped preserve our nation for future generations of Americans.
When I got up this morning, I paused as I put on the same dog tags I was wearing on that fateful day. Like I do every day, I looked down at a third tag I have worn for years. Red in color, it has a laser picture of USS Cole on one side but it is the opposite side that matters most to me. On that side, the names of each of my Sailors, our friends and shipmates that we lost that day, are etched into the metal. I silently read each of those names and paused to remember their faces, their dreams and aspirations, and contemplate what their loss means to not only me but more importantly, their families. In a brutal instant in time, a loved one was taken from them and unfortunately, justice still remains an elusive and distant hope.
Choosing a life of consequence in the service of our great nation is not just a job; it is more than a calling. It is a conscious decision to lead a way of life to protect and defend our nation and its freedoms knowing that if called upon, that decision may cost us our life.
Each of those sailors on my dog tag paid that ultimate price for our country. Their memory and sacrifice will always be remembered. They shall not be forgotten and a grateful nation should take time at 11:18 this morning to quietly pause and remember them. It is because of their sacrifice that we are a free nation today.
—Kirk Lippold, Commander of the USS Cole, on today’s 12th anniversary of the terrorist attack