An American Hero: Then and Now

Written by Dana Karnowski with input from John McElligott and Sean Berry

Today marks the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack. It has taken 20 years to absorb the meaning of September 11, 2001. Those of us alive that year will always remember where we were when we heard the devastating news that a plane had hit the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. While we remember the sorrow of that day and many of the days that followed, we also remember the dedication, commitment and strength of those that responded to the tragic events. Though lives were changed , Americans faced the change together in unity.

Sadly, Sean Berry remembers a time when Americans did not stand together. Like many, he left for Vietnam a young boy and returned a broken man. Of note, Sean was an HM2 Medevac Corpsman and met John McElligott (MHS 1963) while serving in Vietnam. When Sean arrived home in Los Angeles for a month’s break, he was greeted at the airport by angry protestors spitting on him, throwing things and yelling. The treatment of returning soldiers was tragic. Looking for somewhere to turn for support, he immediately sought comfort from his friend from Midland, Texas. He flew to Midland and stayed at the home of John McElligott for 2 weeks before finally returning to his own hometown in New Jersey. They have remained friends since 1964.

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