Probably no single event since the bombing of Pearl Harbor has had more impact on the lives of so many Americans than the terrorist attacks on Sept. …
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Probably no single event since the bombing of Pearl Harbor has
had more impact on the lives of so many Americans than the
terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The 9/11 attack killed about 3,000 people, and on Oct. 7, 2001,
the United States launched Operation Enduring Freedom and the
invasion of Afghanistan. In 2003, the U.S. launched Operation Iraqi
Freedom with the invasion of that country.
Those two conflicts have cost billions of dollars. However, the
cost of war is really about lives and suffering. The two wars have
cost the lives of more than 6,000 U.S. service members and many
thousands more have been wounded.
Additionally the cost is about the impact on millions of
Americans who have seen their lives changed, whether from the loss
of a loved one, personal injury or the impact made by the
experiences here and abroad.
As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 draws near, several area
residents talked about the impact the terrorist attacks and the war
has had on their lives.
Man of faith
Col. Andy Meverden, the Colorado National Guard’s state
chaplain, was in an adjacent building when the plane struck the
Pentagon on 9/11.
“That day, 9/11, definitely was a day that changed my life,” the
chaplain said. “I did what I could to help the walking wounded
leaving the Pentagon that day and I’ll always remember that. But, I
also have been to Afghanistan with our National Guard troops, I
have notified 33 families that a loved one was a war casualty and I
have spent countless hours providing pre-deployment briefings and
counseling members of the military services and their
Meverden began his military career 36 years ago as an enlisted
man and became an officer in 1988.
He was in Washington, D.C., on 9/11 as part of a 14-member
Colorado group on an official visit to the National Guard
He said he had just stepped out of the building near the
Pentagon when the plane struck. He saw the smoke and fire from the
Pentagon, and because his cell phone wasn’t working, he went to his
hotel to call family and his church office to assure them he was
safe. He then returned to the Pentagon to do what he could to help
He worked to help those leaving the building whether it was
through counseling or with his cell phone working again, sharing it
with people from the Pentagon so they could contact family.
“I guess one memory I have of that day is when President Bush
addressed the nation on television and told the members of the
military to get ready,” he said.
Soon after he returned home, one of the Colorado National Guard
units, the 519th Special Forces, was alerted for deployment to
Afghanistan. The unit needed a chaplain. Meverden volunteered and
left on deployment in April 2002.
“It is hard to believe it has been 10 years since that day at
the Pentagon and the time has certainly brought challenges,” he
said. “I have seen negative aspects like the impact of that day and
the wars on military men and women and their families. My faith has
helped me deal with the issues and I feel blessed to have witnessed
what has to be a miracle when a young man who was badly injured and
in pain was healed immediately after I prayed over him.”
The chaplain doesn’t have definite plans for the 9/11
anniversary but he did say he will probably accompany the Colorado
National Guard commander, probably to the anniversary ceremonies in
Colorado Springs and in Denver.
“I hope to be at those ceremonies and I hope they ask me to
pray,” he said.
Losing a brother
Ellen Sleevi said the upcoming 10th anniversary of 9/11, like
the previous 9/11 anniversaries, is another reminder that her
brother died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade
“My brothers, sisters and I went to New York immediately after
9/11 and for the first four anniversaries, but haven’t been able to
make it there since,” the Parker resident said. “But we mark every
anniversary just like we celebrate Chris’ birthday every Halloween.
He is still with us and the things we do in his memory are just
part of the healing process. But his death leaves a hole in my
heart that nothing can ever really fill.”
Her brother Chris Faughnan worked for a brokerage firm and was
in the offices in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
“I have never stopped missing him. I have his pictures in my
house and I talk to him all the time,” she said. “It is hard to
believe it has been 10 years since he left us. Our family will all
be here and we’ll go to the ceremonies at the Broomfield memorial.
My brother Michael is one of the guest speakers.”
She said the entire family has been invited to the special
luncheon after the ceremonies but she will have to leave when the
ceremonies are over in order to open Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli at 8283
S. Akron St. in Centennial.
“It will again be a special day at the deli for Chris,” she
said. “I’ll have a banner up along with his picture and all the
proceeds from the day’s sales go to the Chris Faughnan Memorial
Each year the foundation awards a $5,000 scholarship to a
graduate of Arvada High School, Chris’ alma mater.
“Chris was a staunch supporter of education, so we set up the
scholarship in his memory,” Sleevi said. “The application process
includes an essay, and while we look at need, we also try to award
the scholarship to a student who has the best vision for how to
make the world a better place.”
Heeding the call
Gary Silva said he doesn’t need the approaching 10th anniversary
to remind him of 9/11.
“That day definitely changed my life,” he said. “I look in the
mirror and see my scars every day to remind me of 9/11 and the
things that followed. I am glad I served in the Army, but I live
with the impact of my injuries all the time. So I don’t need an
anniversary to remind me about 9/11.
Silva dropped out of Thomas Jefferson High School to work,
earned his GED and moved to Englewood to go to Arapahoe Community
“I had plans to earn a two-year degree in law enforcement, but
then I saw the attack on the World Trade Center, I didn’t want to
sit back, I wanted to do something,” he said. “So, when the U.S.
invaded Afghanistan, I enlisted in the Army.”
He went through training and volunteered for Afghanistan.
“I was in the infantry and I served a tour there,” he said. “I
liked the Army and stuck with it. We had some good times in the
Army and there were times that weren’t so good. I was wounded
during my third deployment to the combat zone.”
He was hesitant but did say he was part of a patrol that was
ambushed and was injured when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his
“I don’t like to talk about it but I will say I don’t remember a
lot about what happened,” he said.
Silva lost the sight in his left eye and there are still scars
on the left side of his face. He is living on a disability income,
and he said he doesn’t like to go out very much because people
stare at his scars and it makes him mad. He said there may be
additional surgeries to lessen the scars but none are currently
“There isn’t a lot of physical pain but I can’t shut down the
memories that flash into my mind about 9/11 and all the things I
experienced during deployment. I am going to a counselor to try to
work through all that mental stuff, but so far it hasn’t helped a
lot,” he said. “I am thinking I might go to one of the 9/11
ceremonies, but again, I might just watch it on TV.”
Joe Rice, a colonel in the Army Reserve, was preparing for
deployment to Bosnia on 9/11, went on that deployment in 2002 and
the next year, made his first deployment to Iraq.
“Obviously 9/11 and all that has happened since have had a major
impact on my life and the lives of my wife and children. It seems I
was always headed out on deployment or just returning,” the
Littleton resident said. “Deployments disrupt your career and is
hard on family life. I have been on deployment for half the life of
my youngest child.”
Rice, a former state representative, said the initial
deployments were at a time when his older children were young and
only knew Dad was gone for a while. He said he knew it got more
difficult for those children as they became old enough to realize
their father was being sent to a combat zone.
He said he often wonders how different life would have been if
he had been at home as his children were growing up.
“Deployments are hard on my wife and deployments are hard on my
children so naturally they are hard on me,” he said. “But that is
part of being an Army reservist I guess.”
Rice is a civil affairs officer who saw his role change as the
American mission in Iraq changed.
He said, on his first deployment, he worked to help set up local
governments that could provide services to the people such as
repairing roads and utilities.
“Thing changed in Iraq and so did my assignment,” Rice said.
“The second and third deployments, I worked with the American
military to help them develop a working relationship with local
government officials. On later deployments, the assignment shifted
again to helping prepare the Iraqi Army and police forces to take
over providing security for the country as America moved into the
role of adviser and greatly reduced its forces in that
He said the 2003 deployment was a call up, and since then, he
has been called and asked to go to Iraq again.
“The time I spend on a deployment in Iraq varies. In some cases
it is four to six months and the longest stay was 15 months,” he
said. “In all, I have more than three years total in Iraq.”
Rice, the former mayor of Glendale, had just started a position
with Wells Fargo when the deployments began. He said he finally
gave that up because of his frequent trips to Iraq.
He then was elected to the state Legislature. He served two
terms and narrowly lost his bid for re-election in November
“There is no way to determine the impact of the deployments on
my civilian career,” he said. “I am sure it was a factor but I
don’t know if the time I was spending overseas had an impact on my
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