Newly stationed at an Army base in Germany, Josh Evans was trying to clear up issues with his student loans in the United States when a flustered soldier passed him.
“Man, the World Trade Center just got bombed.”
Evans, who grew up in Lawrence and now lives in Olathe, remembered the 1993 bombing and didn’t think this news was any big deal. The U.S. had been attacked before.
Then the second plane hit.
“They tell us to get our gear on,” Evans recalls. “We don’t know what the heck is happening. … I just got out of training and we weren’t dealing with this kind of attack. We didn’t know what the next step would be.”
As Evans watched television reports in his sergeant’s room, the young soldier started to realize that the world had changed. His world had changed.
He’d been in the Army only about nine months, signing up in December 2000. After graduating from the University of Missouri-Kansas City with a music degree, he’d decided that becoming a teacher wasn’t for him.
“I thought, ‘I’m going to serve my country, do something good for myself, pay off my student loans and travel around the world,’?” Evans says. “Then all that changed.”
Now he’d have the chance to do something big, serve his country in a way many people haven’t. His main worry was his folks. When he signed up for the Army, they didn’t expect he would be going off to war.
It took him a few days to reach them by phone.
“I was like, ‘Mom, I’m all right. No, I don’t know anything. I love you, too.’?”
His father asked one question.
“Well, son, are you ready?”
The 24-year-old answered: “You trained me good, Dad.”
On March 19, 2003, the day the U.S. invaded Iraq, Evans celebrated his 26th birthday at the Kuwait/Iraq border. As he served his country, he thought about a time in the future when he would have a family.
“I knew I didn’t want something else like this to happen again, where my kids would be threatened,” Evans says. “I wanted them to live in a safe place.”
He’s now a stay-at-home dad of two girls in Olathe. He has an MBA but lost his job two years ago.
Today, he’ll think back to that morning 10 years ago.
“It’ll remind me of how mad I was, that a bunch of people who don’t like freedom decided to get us.”