On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I was a West Point cadet when someone ran into the gym yelling something about a plane and the World Trade Center. Hailing from Staten Island and belonging to a family full of firefighters, watching those towers fall felt particularly surreal.
Looking back, I hardly recognize my 18-year-old self. Then, I believed in pageantry patriotism — the notion of America as purely a force for good in the world. But I was the product of a hyper-masculine culture. After the towers fell, one of my greatest fears was that the expected war would end before I could join the fray.
Turns out, I had nothing to worry about there.
Once I graduated, I spent 17 years fighting ill-advised and ultimately hopeless wars — all of which made the world a far more brutal and dangerous place. In our vengeance and hubris, U.S. military intervention created more extremists, refugees and corpses.
It took my own complicity in our mad wars — and the realization that I could never explain to the family members what exactly the eight soldiers under my command had died for — to finally speak out.
This 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is a time for widespread patriotic dissent.
Read the full piece here.