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Mid-Michigan Remembers: Heart of a Marine

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Matthew Wilson. Courtesy photo.

By Rob South, WKAR News

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wkar/local-wkar-985435.mp3

LANSING, MI –


Matthew Wilson's life changed on 9/11. Did the course of YOUR life change on that day? PBS NewsHour asked that question across the country. You can see the video responses -- or upload your OWN answer -- at Video Quilt - America Remembers 9/11.


This is the fifth story in a five-part series looking at the impact the September 11th attacks have had in Michigan 10 years later. "9/11: Mid-Michigan Remembers" focuses on personal accounts from that day, our sense of security and the partnerships that have grown in mid-Michigan since then.

In 2001, 17-year-old high school senior Matthew Wilson was already planning on going into the military. Today, Staff Sergeant Matthew Wilson is a recruiter for the Marines and he remembers how the 9/11 attack tempered his conviction to serve his country.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Wilson:

I was in gym class and they had a TV pulled into the gym class and we watched a lot of the news broadcast that day. I already had been considering the military, and that was kind of one of the driving factors. You know, if someone's going to come over here and do something like that to the people of my country.

A lot of hearsay, scuttlebutt around the high school, you know. You hear something, a plane ran into the World Trade Center, one of the World Trade Center buildings. You know, at that age -- 17 years old, I didn't even know what the World Trade Center was -- I just thought it was a big building.

I finally got out to gym class and our teacher, he had come up and he let us know there's been two planes that ran into the World Trade Center and it's on fire. They wheeled in the TV. I was watching it and you know, me and my friends, 17-year-old kids, we were joking around, laughing around about it, "that pilot was drinking..."

It didn't really hit me until I got home. I got home and I saw some of the devastation that really actually happened when I was watching on TV. I was at home sitting on my couch and there was no one else at home with me and I just thought about my decision to join the military.

I thought about my country, and actually, I cried that day, a 17-year-old kid being hit that hard in the heart with the families suffering out there and everything. It was real rough.

And then when my mom and dad came home we actually sat down at dinner and talked about it. It was a situation where nothing like that's happened in my lifetime, since I was young coming up there'd never been a terrorist attack or any big military operation if that.

So it was a big thing and my parents knew I was looking at the military and we actually discussed a lot of why I would join and what I would be doing.

I've been on a few deployments on aircraft carriers overseas and stuff like that, I was originally an F-18 mechanic. Being on those deployments, it actually helps me sleep at night, helps me feel that I'm doing something good for the country, for the world, when I'm over there doing something that's going to prevent something like that happening on our soil, you know, on our edge of the turf.

Us bringing the fight to them I think, that's what makes me feel better about what I'm doing. This is going to stop this from happening to my family members, my relatives, my neighbors, and it's going to stop it from happening to someone from overseas. We're cutting it off at the head and we're going to stop these people over on their own turf.

9/11 really gave me a grasp on what America meant to me, what serving in the military would mean, what kind of evil's out there.


Matthew Wilson's life changed on 9/11. Did the course of YOUR life change on that day? PBS NewsHour asked that question across the country. You can see the video responses -- or upload your OWN answer -- at Video Quilt - America Remembers 9/11.


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