A 9/11 Commitment

Brian Yang

Army Reserves veteran Brian Yang made a commitment to serve on 9/11. Today he's continuing his service in Texas by helping residents affected by Hurricane Harvey.

On the morning of September 11th, I distinctly remember turning the TV on while I waited for my sister to finish getting ready for school. The first image on the screen was of the South tower burning. I still remember the sound of disbelief in my homeroom teacher’s voice when I told her what I saw that morning. A feeling of helplessness consumed me as I sat in class that week and I felt like I needed to do something but I just didn’t know how.

The next several weeks brought a roller coaster of emotions as more details emerged of what happened. I made a pact with myself to serve, committed to it in the 7th grade, but an opportunity didn’t present itself until college orientation when I discovered the Army ROTC program.

In 2011, I commissioned as an ordnance officer and in 2012 I deployed to Afghanistan. I finally got my chance to be a part of something that made a difference; I was part of something that mattered. When I left the military in 2013 and joined the civilian job force I lost something that, at the time, I couldn’t identify.

When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, l watched the coverage and felt that familiar feeling of helplessness. I needed to do something. This time I knew: I needed to get out of the office and help.

Deploying with Team Rubicon showed what I missed most was being part of something that made a tangible difference in someone’s life. Mucking out a house in a TYVEK suit is hard and exhausting.

Looking into the homeowner’s eyes and see the feeling of hope restored is worth every sore muscle, every ounce of sweat.

Yesterday I spent the day helping Mike and Belinda start the process of getting back to normal. Finding that old soggy newspaper from September 11th in their home brought it all full circle. I found myself again; I understand why I needed to be here. This is why I joined Team Rubicon: to serve.

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