Second Lieutenant Henry LaMontange stood alone in the quite cemetery. The dark black jacket of his Marine Uniform was perfectly pressed, each insignia placed correctly and shined perfectly, his cover properly placed, and his shoes shined to regulation.
He stood in front of the headstone at attention, his arm raised in solemn salute. It had been fifteen years since the world had stopped turning. Every year on the anniversary of that day he came here. Now at twenty years old he didn't need his father there with him, he was a man now, determined to face this day on his own.
"Sorry I haven't come the last four years," he started as he lowered his right arm to his side, still standing straight up. "Even with a Mother who worked for the Department of Defense I couldn't get out of classes. Uncle Spencer had told me how I was supposed to go to Yale, who knows maybe one day I will. It's because of you, you know, that I didn't go there. Dad had a hard time signing the paperwork letting me enter Annapolis at just seventeen.
If September 11 hadn't happened maybe our world wouldn't have changed, maybe I would have gone to Yale, been a lawyer, I don't know. I graduated in June, they've assigned me to the Pentagon, like you."
Henry thought back on his four years at the Naval Academy. Henry had excelled in school far better than anyone could imagine. With a mother who had not only worked for the FBI but also the State Department and a father who went onto become the Chief of Police, he always felt he had a lot to live up to. September 11 would change the course of his life in ways no one could imagine. Like so many other young men he decided very early on he would join the Armed forces.
Throughout high school he excelled both in the classroom and on the playing field. He graduated at the top of his class, had been the star of the football, basketball, baseball, and because of his mother the soccer team. To most people it seemed like school and sports came easy to him, but every day he set out to make sure exceeded the life his mother had dreamed for him.
He had offers from schools all over the country, only one school had failed to offer him a full ride. The day he got the acceptance letter from the US Naval Academy he knew where he was going. Henry was going to be a pilot in the US Marine Corps.
He spent his four years at the Naval Academy much the same way he did in high school, when his head wasn't buried in a book he was excelling on the field.
"Henry?" A familiar voice called out to him in the middle of the hallowed grounds.
Henry turned around and smiled at the older man walking towards him. "Uncle Rossi."
It was Rossi that had helped Henry finally decide to join the Marines rather than the Navy when he was offered his commission. Rossi had been a Sargent Major and had encouraged the young boy to, as he put it, join the best of the best.
"I didn't think I would see anyone until the service." The young marine stood proudly in front of one of his hero's.
"I knew I'd find you here, thought I'd drive you to the memorial." Rossi patted the young man's back, "You have a lot to be proud of young man." Rossi had followed Henrys journey through the academy, and knew just what a fine young Marine he had become.
"Fifteen years….I can't believe it's been fifteen years." Henry reminisced as he looked at the name imprinted on the hard rock, there wasn't enough years on that headstone. "I needed to come here first…you know before…"
David Rossi nodded his head, he did understand. September 11 had changed so much. Too many people lost their lives that day. The country faced a war that lasted far longer than anyone imagined. It was only a few short years ago that the man responsible had been caught, but the threat of terrorism still loomed over them.
As time ticked on Rossi looked down at his watch, "We better get going son."
Rossi walked towards his car, giving Henry one last moment alone. He watched as the young man raised his right arm again, saluting the gravestone in front of him. He watched as he then got down on one knee and placed a hand on top of the headstone.
Henry took a coin out of his dress pants pocket, placing it on the top of the headstone. "This was given to me on my graduation by the Commandant." He looked down at the Military Coin signifying not only his graduation but also that he finished at the top of his class, "I never would have gotten if it weren't for you."
Henry looked down at his watch, it was 9:15, and the ceremony would start at exactly the moment the plane had crashed into the Pentagon, 9:37.
"David Rossi who is that handsome young man with you!" Penelope couldn't believe the young man walking up to them was the same little blonde boy who used to climb in her lap and play on the FBI computers, "Oh my buttercup let me look at you." She pulled Henry into a tight squeeze.
"That's Second Lieutenant Buttercup, Garcia." Rossi joked as the blonde woman gushed over her Godson.
"It's good to see you to Aunt Pen!" Henry hugged her tightly before greeting the rest of his mom's team, his family.
"Well, well, well, look at you pretty boy all grown up!" Morgan shook the Marines hand, "Good to see you Henry, we weren't sure you were going to make it."
After graduation Henry had been assigned to a base in London and didn't think he would be able to get leave to join his family, "Mom's former bosses made sure I was going to be here. It doesn't hurt that they loved her when she was at the Pentagon."
His family smiled, there wasn't anyone that met Jennifer Jareau that she hadn't been able to charm. Henry greeted the rest of his family, his Aunt Emily of course made a big fuss over his being there. He was most surprised to see his best friend, Jack Hotchner.
"Jack!" Henry greeted the older boy. They were three years apart but they had grown up together and had been inseparable. When Henry started high school a year early, it was Jack; who had been a junior at the time, who made sure the younger boy hadn't been hazed.
Jack and Henry hugged briefly and talked about their respective assignments. Jack had opted to go into the Air Force, and like his father had a passion for the law, he had already made plans to join the FBI when he left the military.
Just as Henry saw his father walking up to join the group, the ceremony began.
Over the next hour Henry and the team listened as the President of the United States talked about the people who had lost their lives fifteen years earlier. He had talked about the heroes who sacrificed their lives so that others could live. After the President's speech he laid a wreath at the base of the memorial, and just like in New York City individuals started reading off the names of the people who lost their lives at the Pentagon.
One by one the names were read. One hundred and eighty-four names were read, at times the person reading would pause for a moment, the audience knew that they name they read was the person they had lost. American Airlines Flight 77 lost fifty-nine people, not including the murderers that caused the crash. There had been one hundred and twenty-five people who were lost in the Pentagon. There were one hundred and eighty-four innocent people killed, and one hundred and eight-four families that were never be the same.
When the last name was read there was a moment of silence. A soft breeze swept through the crowd and the faint sound of "Amazing Grace" played in the distance. With the last note disappeared into the wind, the final speaker made their way to the podium. Henry looked up at the speaker with soft tears forming in his eyes. His own blue eyes locked on theirs as he held a deep breath.
"When speaking of December 7, 1941 President Roosevelt said that it would be a day that would live in infamy. When our country was attacked on that early Sunday morning in 1941 it changed the course of our country and a war that almost seemed to have no end.
"Almost fifty years later we faced another blitz attack on what started out as a 'normal' day. When speaking of the attacks and our countries response to them, President Bush had this to say;
"The men who attacked our country fifteen years ago, did it in an attempted to cripple our country. What they didn't account for was just how we would respond. They didn't count on the countless brave men and women who sacrificed their lives so that another person could live." The speaker paused for a moment.
"It is because of someone else's sacrifice that I'm here with you today." Jennifer Jareau held up a picture of the Lieutenant that had saved her life and then looked down at his wife who was in the front row, trying to hold in the tears just a little longer.
"I was in the Pentagon the day five cowards crashed a plane into it. I was trapped in my office and while clinging to a picture of my husband and son, I mentally said goodbye to them. If it wasn't for this man," JJ pulled the picture against her chest, "I never would have made it out of the Pentagon. He got me out of my office, and when the building collapsed him made sure I made it to safety. He gave his life up so I could live." JJ paused for a moment allowing the tears to flow freely.
"If it wasn't for this man," she paused again and look out into the audience at her family, "If it wasn't for him I never would have held my son Henry again, I never would have had the chance to read him a bed time story, or watch him go to prom, or stand proudly as he joined the Marines.
Because of this man I'm still here with my family, and because of him my son joined the military because he wanted to save lives just like his hero." JJ looked down at the picture of her son's hero, the same man her son had gone to visit that morning.
JJ talked about the extent of her injuries and the countless surgeries she went through to be able to walk again. She talk about how she had been scared to go back to the Pentagon again, but did so because the last thing she wanted to do was let the terrorist win. She went back to the Pentagon on her terms and when she left to go back to the FBI it was because it was what she wanted, not because of the attacks.
JJ took one last look at the notes she had written, knowing she didn't need them, then looked at her family sitting in the audience, the same family that helped her get through the months and years after she almost lost her life.
She then made contact with the Lieutenants widow, "It's because of your husband that I'm here today, but more importantly if it wasn't for him, eight months after the attacks I never would have given birth to my daughter, Hope."
Henry turned to look at his nearly fifteen year old sister who was sitting next to him, he held her hand tight as they listened to their mother talk about the day that had changed the world.
A/N that completes this story. Thank you to everyone who reviewed, favorited, followed, or read this story. I know that 9/11 is day that no one can forget. I just want to point out one thing if you didn't notice. The man that saved JJ's life was never given a name, just a rank in the Military. This was done by design. When writing this story I wanted to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11. Sadly nearly 3,000 people lost their lives on a day that started out just like any other. I looked up names of those killed at the Pentagon but to single out one person didn't seem right so I gave him just a rank so he could be any one.
In the first 2 chapters the times of each attack are true to when they actually occured but I used some creative license as far as how quickly the team learned of the attacks, I figured they're with the FBI they would learn before the public.
Thank you again for reading this story I hope it did that day some justice.