My encounter with Ray was brief. He was on a trek, and time was relevant to his mission. After capturing a photo, along with a few words, I could only show my respect with a handshake (yes a handshake), the respect to allow him to journey on, and a “Thank you for your service!”

According to my quick research, I discovered that Ray’s profile shows his service today is in the form of a U.S. Army Recruiter. As you will read his own words below, you will see that service in the U.S. Army is a family tradition. Now his 9.11 mile ruck march, is a new tradition.

11 September 2001, I was in my 9th grade engineering class. Watching the news after the first plane struck. A couple of weeks later, my father deployed to Afghanistan to defend this great nation. 2005 came along, I graduated high school and shipped off to basic training. 2009 I deployed to Afghanistan. My father and I were in country at the same time. 2020 my daughter graduated high school and shipped out to basic. It’s a family tradition to serve, and it’s a new tradition to remember and honor the fallen of 9/11 with a 9.11 mile ruck march while holding Old Glory.” – Ray Rodriguez

Let us all give thanks for our men and women who serve in our Armed Forces, Police, Fire, Emergency Medical, and First Responders. There are, of course, many more who deserve honor. Many are you, the Citizen of the United States of America. When tragedy strikes, citizens respond right alongside our beloved, First Responders.

My Encounter with Ray Rodriguez – September 11, 2020

Gary Godfrey – CRCO Administrator