The following was submitted by Scott William Taylor, a former Navy SEAL who served us as our United States Representative for Virginia’s 2nd congressional district from 2017 to 2019.
20 years – since my life changed since our nation changed since the world changed. The years in between would yield, among other things, the very altering of the U.S. government, numerous deployments by less than one percent of our nation, families fractured and broken apart, Amazing Grace played thousands of times at military funerals, and trillions of taxpayer dollars spent.
20 years ago, I awoke, like many Americans, just in time to see the second tower fall on live television. That moment was surreal. It was scary. I joined a group organized by U.S. Navy SEAL Team Four to go help in New York at Ground Zero, but there were so many Americans volunteering from across the country that they asked only those with firefighting experience to come. Most were unsure of what was to come next. But we knew what was coming next: war. My prior plans to leave the Naval service were abandoned, and I reenlisted early.
20 years have passed since then, but like many others, I continue searching for ways to serve, save lives, and step up for our nation. I did so in the immediate wake of 9/11, and more recently, I’ve done so in the last days of this war.
20 years after 9/11/2001, I found myself headed overseas, called to help save American and allied Afghan lives, during a hasty and poorly planned withdrawal that ended our nation’s longest war.
There were some successes and some failures in helping people; the demand far exceeded the supply. Indeed, after two weeks of round-the-clock efforts, and ultimately after our failure to get beyond Taliban checkpoints to help hundreds of innocent and talented students…I broke down and wept.
My moment came after the young women and girls did not make it to freedom. An Army special operations veteran called me from Afghanistan. Offering his selfless support, he said: “I’m here on the ground in Kabul. I will do anything to help. I have two girls at home, man.” I thought about him and his willingness to put his life on the line, despite his own family at home…I thought about all my friends who have given their lives for a cause that they viewed to be greater than themselves…so many emotions overcame me all at once.
20 years have been a burden to bear on a small percentage of the population who will carry a heavy load for the rest of their lives. And 20 years later, at the end of this war, veterans, Americans – from all walks of life – stepped up to help just as they did 20 years ago. Regardless of your views on the war or withdrawal from Afghanistan, never stop showing appreciation for those in our country who live by a code summed up in Isaiah 6:8: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’
And I said, ‘Here I am. Send me.’