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  • Writer's pictureTrace Johannesen

Yellow Footprints

Updated: Sep 11, 2022

The 6.5-liter diesel engines in GMC and Chevy pickups in the 1990s were notoriously weak. I soon realized I could identify their distinctive sound amidst other motors, having spent many hours and miles breathing the dust contained within the grey cloth seats and black vinyl floor liners of my foreman’s GMC, to the soundtrack of that anemic engine.

That same diesel sound rattled to life at the local Vermeer dealer one morning after picking up parts for my drill rig. My finger marked a clean spot in the aforementioned dust on the radio as I tuned in to my favorite Americana station. Breaking news had preempted the music, and I seemed to recall earlier in the week some news report of a small Cessna crashing into a building somewhere in Europe. And now on that September morning in 2001, I thought it odd for a plane to hit a building twice in one week. The realization manifested as a pit in my stomach as they reported the plane crashing into the second tower, with realization quickly turning into anger.

The subsequent week flashed by in a numbing blur as we all tried to make sense of the silent skies and feebly attempted everyday work. The decision about whether or not to join the Marine Reserves had vanished, replaced by the most primal need to defend my country. In fact, in my mind, there was literally no choice: As I was willing and able, I MUST go and fight. So on September 18, 2001, a week later to the day, I signed on the dotted line at that same Marine recruiting station in Lewisville, TX.

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