Living history lesson; Purple heart recipient speaks on 9/11 impacts

Published Wednesday, September 19, 2018

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History Lesson

HISTORY LESSON – Retired Army Sgt. and Purple Heart recipient Greg Dotson spoke to Chico fourth and fifth graders last week on the lasting impacts of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Greg Dotson was laying on a friend’s couch in Southern Illinois. The soldier didn’t fully understand how the morning’s events would impact the rest of his life.

Dotson would deploy twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan in the years following in America’s war on terror. In his second tour in Iraq, Dotson lost a leg from an improvised explosive device.

“When I talk to a lot of people, it’s about how 9-11 impacted so many people for the rest of their lives,” said the retired Army combat medic Sgt. Dotson, a Purple Heart recipient who lives in Fort Worth.

Dotson spoke last week on Sept. 11 to fourth and fifth graders at Chico Elementary at the invite of fifth grade teacher Kendra Messer.

Messer said her students were intrigued by Dotson’s presentation.

“It brings to life and hits home how it affected the lives of people,” Messer said. “There’s a chain of events. A lot of the kids know about the tragedy, but don’t know that it started a war.”

Students pointed out after Dotson’s visit that troops are still deployed as a result of the terror attacks.

“The war went on and on and got worse and worse,” said student Savannah Sitek.

Grace Tyner added that troops were working in Afghanistan and Iraq, so they “could be a free country.”

Dotson enjoyed the opportunity to speak to students who were not alive when the attacks happened and reiterate how that day has had a lasting impact.

But he also pointed to the hope and unity of the nation following.

“We’ve been through hard times, and we’ve always recovered because we’re able to come together,” Dotson said. “No matter how bad things get, we can get through anything together. That was our ah-ha moment. Out of tragedy comes hope.”

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