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Listen to 'Defining Moment'

Sic vivant ut alii.

Defining Moment

That phrase is repeated during training and afterward among the brotherhood of SAR (search and rescue) swimmers in the US Navy and US Coast Guard. It's SAR's motto. It's Latin for "so others may live," and it's been my motivating theme—in military life and beyond.

In August 2001, I left the comfort of home, family, and friends to do something more with my life. At 18, I enlisted in the Navy to be trained as a helicopter SAR swimmer, seeking camaraderie in the form of training, discipline, and service. A month later, while I stood in ranks with my shipmates during basic training in Great Lakes, Illinois, the second of the World Trade Center's twin towers fell in New York City.

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