Twenty years ago today I was riding my motorcycle to work, a little late, but almost there. My boss, Governor Rick Perry, called me along the way, and I had to pull over to get the phone out, take off my helmet, and answer him.
He asked me if I still had family in New York (I didn’t) and if I had seen the news (I hadn’t). He told me to get to the office as fast as I could.
I arrived to everyone standing in one room staring at the TV. I walked in almost exactly as the second plane hit the South Tower.
A short time later we learned of the plane hitting the Pentagon. One of the people I occasionally worked with, an incredibly intelligent woman, Barbara Olson, died on that flight.
Over the course of that day, the nature of those attacks became evident, and over the next days I would hear so many people talk about what “we” were going to do.
Friends, co-workers, everyone, was talking about how “we” were going to get the people who did this. “We” were going to go over there and kick the hell out of them. “We” were going to make them pay. “We” were going to keep our nation, and her people, safe.
I came to realize that everyone I was talking to didn’t think “we” meant the same thing I thought it did. Those people meant “we” in the same sense they talked about “we” on the football field. They knew damn well they weren’t playing in that game, and had no intention of ever doing so.
To me, “we” meant you and me. A short time later I got that it was really just me. So I signed up, as an enlisted man, and became a medic. No one, and I mean not one of the people I worked with — family, friends — no one did the same. Those people actually meant “they” every time they said “we.”
And that’s the crux of the issue before us today in regards to our daily carry of firearms. Around our nation, far too many people attempt to pass on their duty to protect themselves and the others they are responsible for. They depend on us to protect them, all the while saying “we” are safe.
No folks, I am safe. I make myself safe, and I’ll do my best to make you safe, too. But if you aren’t taking responsibility for your own safety, if you walked out of the house today unready, there’s no “we” to it.
For those of you who did, who on this day woke up, tooled up, and went about your life, thank you for standing with me. I am proud of our nation, and proud of us.
This post was originally published in 2015.