I have only heard the story behind this picture once, but it literally brought tears to my eyes. On September 11, 2001, a hijacked plane knifed into the side of the Pentagon. We all know that. What very few people have heard is shortly afterwards, the director of a nursery in the building stood looking at the children in her charge, wondering how to move all of the babies and toddlers to safety.
A marine rushed into the room and asked if she was alright. She needed help and she told him that. He turned and ran out; the woman assumed that he had gone away for good. As she formulated a plan of action, she heard footsteps in the hall.
The man had returned—this time, though, he was not alone. At least forty other Marines followed him. They picked up the babies in their cribs, the toddlers, the helpless infants. They carried them through the halls and to a nearby park, where they arranged the cribs in a circle and set the toddlers in the middle. Then they stood guard outside, never allowing the children to be unattended.
When I first saw this picture, I thought that the man carrying the children was their father. Now I realize that he was not related to them by blood, but by nationality. He is an American. They are American children. He is not their father, he is their protector. He’s a United States Marine.