It has been ten years since 9/11. That was a huge day for millions of Americans. 9/11 lead directly or indirectly to the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For those of us in the military or formerly in the military, 9/11 marks the starting point of multiple deployments, moves, new jobs, lives changed, and more. Thousands of service members have been physically and mentally wounded. The San Antonio Express News describes some of the wounded warriors here.
When I was in Iraq in 2005, we served with soldiers from the 42d Infantry Division, New York National Guard. Many of those soldiers had been on active duty since 9/11. They were activated immediately after 9/11 and stayed on active duty through 2005. They secured New York City from possible additional attack and they combed the rooftops of the city for fragments of persons and belongings from the twin towers attack. The 42d understood the 9/11 attacks in ways the rest of us never will.
The 42d has a history. Their division patch or emblem is a rainbow, worn on the left sleeve. They lost half their division in World War I. The story goes that the Division chief of staff at the time, Douglas MacArthur, future WW II general, cut the patch in half, to commemorate the lost half. To this day, the 42d ID wears half a rainbow on its left shoulder. In 2005, they had more reason to remember. So, their slogan in 2005 was "Rainbow, never forget."
Slogans in the military are officially something a soldier says to another when rendering a salute. It becomes a greeting, a closure to meetings, a summary of what the military unit believes in. Over time, I came to appreciate the meaning of the 42d ID slogan more and more.
So, on this day, let us join the 42d in saying, "Rainbow, never forget."