Taylor, an Oxford resident and Army recruiter, said people young and old put their bids in to become servicemen and servicewomen at that time. Some, like one 57-year-old man, didn’t make the cut.
“That was sad, because he was trying to do what he thought was right for the country,” Taylor said.
The following October enlistments surged, said Capt. Andrew J. Richardson, a public affairs officer for the Alabama Army National Guard. But despite patriotic sentiment and the October rush, fewer Alabamians enlisted in the National Guard in the years following the terrorist attacks.
The same is true of the Army and the Army Reserves, which saw enlistments for Calhoun and surrounding counties fall in the year after the attacks.
The year before the terror attacks the Army enlisted 102 soldiers at its Oxford office. The year after the attacks, 80 people enlisted locally.
The Army Reserves signed up 44 recruits the year before the attacks and 41 the year after.
The National Guard enlisted 384 fewer Alabamians the year after the attacks.
“I did not see the massive influx that everybody kept wanting to see in our area,” Army public affairs officer John McCollister said of Alabama.
McCollister said statistical data shows that Alabamians are more inclined to sign up for the Army than are people in other regions of the country. So, he said, there was less likelihood of a spike in the number of enlistments in Alabama than there was in other parts of the country.
“I almost would have been shocked to see a change because the propensity, the desire to serve is so high in this area,” he said.
McCollister said that despite the local figures the Army and Army Reserve collectively enlisted about 1 million service men and women from 2002 to 2011. The largest number of them, 750,924, signed up for the Army. About a third of the approximate 1 million enlistments, 273,840, were for the Army Reserves.
Richardson said one of the reasons fewer people enlisted in the National Guard following the attacks may be because more existing Guard members at that time were renewing their contracts, leaving less room for new members. Whatever, the reason, he said the Guard has consistently maintained 100 percent of the men and woman needed to fill the number of positions they’re authorized to fill.
Another factor in the enlistment dip may have been that the Army and the Army Reserves didn’t have as many local recruiters at that time, Richardson said.
But overall, he said, this part of the state is highly patriotic, in good times and bad. According to Richardson, Calhoun County and surrounding areas produce a high percentage of the Alabamians who sign up for the Guard.
He attributed this to the county’s military ties, through the former Fort McClellan, the Anniston Army Depot and the Army National Guard Training Center at McClellan.
Despite the figures, Sgt. First Class Thomas Jatko, a spokesman for the training center, said the terror attacks have served as one motivating factor for new recruits for a decade. Other motivating factors for enlistment, which existed before and after the terror attacks, include practical concerns such as job security.
Even today, Jatko said, new enlistees cite the scenes they saw on Sept. 11, 2001, among the reasons they enlisted.
“Most of them just talk about remembering where they were when it happened,” he said. “They’ll tell me I was 5 or 6 years old, 7 years old and I couldn’t wait until I was 17 so I could sign up.”