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Call to Battle
An Essay by Phil Margetta-Cacace

Like most of us on the East Coast, my day was just beginning when it was interrupted by a call from a friend, a reserve officer who works for the Office of Emergency Management. "Turn on your TV," he barked. "Yeah, the World Trade Center. I know."

"Pack your gear," he said. "It looks like we'll need to be ready to go somewhere soon." I knew he was overstating his point, but at the same time, I had that off-balance feeling you get when you've turned a corner and are headed into uncharted terrain. This time, it could involve going places to new things we'd rather not mention.

After the attacks, my friends and family had the luxury of contacting me to make sure everything was all right, but all I could find out about the people at the Pentagon was what little I could glean from the news. No point in trying to call. If the phones weren't down, the lines needed to be free for emergency workers. Neither did I learn anything from the officer who phoned for a roster check of everyone in my unit. But I know, we've probably taken major losses in leadership. So I've begun my own personal roster check by e-mailing friends and colleagues. Thankfully some found time to answer right away. Others will probably respond later. Still others may not answer at all.

As in other conflicts, I have resigned myself to the idea that again I will probably know someone who is injured or killed. Still, I hope that my fellow Americans do not succumb to blind anger. I think we all feel helpless, vulnerable and frustrated. Lashing out feels appropriate, even satisfying. But I know that whenever there is an inappropriate, overwhelming response, innocents suffer more than the guilty. As a soldier, and for the sake of the men and women whose fate I still do not know, I hope our nation's course will be dispassionate, measured and appropriate. Let us all pray that only the coolest heads prevail.

Major Phil Margetta-Cacace is a U.S. reserve officer.