EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - Sixteen years have passed since the 9/11 terrorist attacks where hijackers took four passenger planes, crashed them into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington D.C, and in Pennsylvania. From the devastating attacks, many citizens took the opportunity to serve, including one East Texan who was in high school at the time in 2001.
Luke Tarbutton said growing up he often thought about serving his nation.
He comes from a long line of veterans; his dad, grandfather and great-grand father have embraced the uniform.
"My dad never pushed it on me, in fact he never really wanted me to go," Tarbutton said. "He wanted me to do something different. My grandfather never pushed it on me. It was never something like that you're going to do this. It's just something in our family that the men in our family, when we see a need we've got to fill it."
Tarbutton said he developed a strong conviction to enlist after he and his high school friends listened to the reports of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"We heard the live report when the second plane hit the tower and it was unreal," Tarbutton said. "It had a feeling of confusion and disbelief and anger and frustration all at the same time."
He immediately wanted to enlist, but his father encouraged him to complete high school, saying he should make a calculated decision instead of a reactive one. Tarbutton wasn't the only one thinking along the same lines.
"Really, for this generation, 9/11 was the Pearl Harbor of past generations, that sparked so much interests to fill our military ranks even until this day," said John Fontenot, the Veteran Resource Center coordinator at Stephen F. Austin State University.
The attacks united the country during a time many were experiencing its deepest wounds.
"So much camaraderie and patriotism and pride. It didn't matter what state you were from, it didn't matter what color you were. It didn't matter if you were country or rock n' roll, it didn't matter what you were. You were American and that's it," Tarbutton said.
Fontenot said a result of the terrorist attacks, the country saw a new elevated change in the level of resilience the nation displayed.