As a member of the New York Air National Guard, the 22-year-old Lobraico was on his second tour of combat duty since graduating high school in 2008. His friends called him T.J.
He died Sept. 5 from wounds suffered during an attack near the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.
According to the Department of Defense, Lobraico is the latest American soldier, sailor, Marine or airman to die in the Afghanistan War. He joins 2,133 other members of the U.S. military who have perished in Afghanistan since the United States and its allies invaded that nation following the 9/11 attacks. Among the deceased are at least 1,771 service members who have died in hostile actions, the DoD says. Nearly 20,000 members of the U.S. military have been wounded, as well.
On this solemn day, it is altogether right to remember the more than 3,000 people who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks in New York City, Washington and Pennsylvania. One of those is one of our own, Maj. Dwayne Williams, of Jacksonville, who died in the attack on the Pentagon. Most of 9/11’s victims were American civilians going about their daily routines at work: fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters. Their families’ pain, and that of the nation, has hardly diminished.
For a nation not accustomed to attacks on our soil — or terrorism-caused deaths of our civilians anywhere — today’s anniversary marks an event the American people will never forget.
Commemoration can be either personal or public, depending on one’s point of view. The 9/11 anniversary, like that of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, is not a national holiday. It’s interesting to note, then, that more than half of polled Americans (52.3 percent) feel the the “right amount” of recognition is given to the 9/11 anniversary, according to a study conducted by American Pulse for USA Today. Likewise, 37.3 percent of those polled strongly disagreed with the notion that they had “moved on” from 9/11.
The emotion of today’s anniversary certainly proves that correct.
Nevertheless, we owe it to America’s fighting men and women to remember that the military cause of 9/11 still rages in Afghanistan, that mountainous nation of herders and farmers that at one time was a haven for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. The 9/11 anniversary and the status of America’s military in Afghanistan can’t be separated.
It’s a staggering, numbing fact: America has been at war in Afghanistan for nearly 12 years. Sgt. Lobraico, and the thousands of others like him, military and civilian, are worth our time today.