Lives altered after 9/11

As a sophomore at Northern Illinois University, Andreas Lucido’s focus was on school and wrestling — not on the military. But that all changed for him 10 years ago. Lucido entered his apartment after a morning wrestling practice to find his roommates huddled around their T.V. as footage of 767s crashing into the World Trade Center aired.

“That’s when I kind of had a real hard reality check as far as what I was doing with my life,” Lucido said, now a University graduate student. “You kind of look at your life and figure out, ‘hey, am I doing what I should be doing right now? What can I do that’s a little bit greater than myself?’”

The events of Sept. 11 altered the course of many lives throughout the world. Among those affected by the attacks were America’s men and women serving in the Armed Forces.

“I’ve kind of lived all over the United States and been deployed across the world,” Lucido said. “It was definitely an eye-opening experience for a kid from the North suburbs … you start to realize there’s a lot more out there than just what you’ve been exposed to for the past 22 years of your life.”

Lucido said he reflected on his future for a year following the attacks.

Lucido ultimately decided to quit wrestling and fully commit to the military, where he served with the 75th Ranger Regiment in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lucido said there was no commitment for the first two years of the ROTC program, but after the attacks and with a pending war in sight, the gravity of the decision to commit increased.

“You’re going to stay in or get out at this point,” he said. “If you weren’t fully committed, if you weren’t wanting to be involved in the fact that you’re going to war, this is definitely the wrong business because that’s what the military is. They’re in the business of going to war.”

On the morning of the attacks, Michael Goodlow was aboard the submarine, USS Pennsylvania, stationed just off the Florida coast.

He was about to go to sleep when the captain came over the PA and explained what had happened in New York City.

Despite the captain’s explanation, Goodlow, freshman in Engineering and Navy veteran, said some of the crew thought it was a drill.

“We’re sitting out in the middle of the Atlantic, a couple hundred feet under the ocean. We can’t actually see the images on T.V., no newspapers, no magazines, no real contact, so we’re cut off from the actual information,” he said.

Goodlow said most who joined in the aftermath of 9/11 not only brought “extra patriotism,” but also a renewed pride for their work and jobs in the military that resonated with the men and women already serving.

“Life on a submarine, like most military time, can be a pain in the butt,” Goodlow said. “Long hours, very little recognition, so you get frustrated easily. With these newer guys coming in, that frustration level kind of went down because there were more important things to worry about.”

While the attacks on the United States 10 years ago were inspiration for some to join the Armed Forces, it was just one of many reasons for others, like Mateusz Jasieniecki, who said it was only part of what steered him toward the Army.

“I’m not going to say that 9/11 was the sole purpose of me joining the military, because Al-Qaida attacked American civilians way before 9/11,” Jasieniecki said. “It was just another impetus, but it wasn’t the sole reason at all.”

Jasieniecki, junior in LAS, moved from Poland to Burbank, Ill. at age 3 and cites his experience as an immigrant as the main reason behind his decision to enlist.

“This country has given my family a lot of opportunities, and it’s given me a lot of opportunities,” he said.

Lucido said his experience in the military gave him a broader perspective on life, taught him responsibility and made him a better person.

“People look up to you. People expect you to make the right decisions, being in those positions. It puts you in an area where you have to be a little more responsible.”

In retrospect, Lucido said he would go back and do it all over again.

He said if he didn’t join the military, he probably wouldn’t be pursuing an MBA at Illinois or have met his soon-to-be wife.