Medal of Honor recipient and new Fox News contributor Dakota Meyer can remember every detail of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. But he longs to see the country return to the unity he witnessed in the aftermath.
"Nine-eleven is my generation's Pearl Harbor," Meyer told Fox News Thursday. "When you talk about my grandparent's generation, everyone remembers where they were when Pearl Harbor happened. And the same thing happened with 9/11."
"I was 13-years-old when men flew two planes into the World Trade Center," Meyer added. "I can remember exactly where I was standing in middle school… I can remember them bringing a T.V. and watching the second tower fall."
Five years later Meyer joined the United States Marine Corps, a decision he said was not directly out of a desire to "avenge 9/11," but more out of a desire to continue his family's tradition of serving their country.
"My grandfather was a Marine… my whole family served," Meyer said. "And not necessarily in a military capacity."
"Honor and integrity was something that was instilled into my family," he added.
The terrorist attacks of September 11 were not always on his mind during his time in military service, but the events of that day lingered in the background no matter where he went.
"When I served in Iraq, I'll never forget one of the first houses we went into, in the bedroom of that house… there was a picture of the World Trade Center falling," Meyer recalled.
Meyer would later deploy to Afghanistan, the place where the 9/11 attacks were plotted. It was there that Meyer was awarded the nation's highest award for military heroism, the Medal of Honor.
On September 8, 2009, Meyer was pulling security while other U.S. forces went on a foot patrol that was attacked by over 50 enemy fighters. Upon learning that his fellow Americans were cut off by the attack, Meyer took up an exposed gunner's position in a gun-truck that he and a fellow Marine used to take multiple trips through withering enemy fire in an attempt to rescue their comrades.
"During the first two trips, he and his driver evacuated two dozen Afghan soldiers, many of whom were wounded," reads his Medal of Honor citation. "When one machine gun became inoperable, he directed a return to the rally point to switch to another gun-truck for a third trip into the ambush area, where his accurate fire directly supported the remaining U.S. personnel and Afghan soldiers fighting their way out of the ambush."
Now a veteran of the conflict, Meyer expressed sadness at the current situation in Afghanistan, lamenting that the U.S. drawdown has left many Afghans vulnerable to the Taliban.
"I hate what's happening in Afghanistan right now," Meyer said. "For 20 years, women got to go to school, children got to go to school. Women got to go out and be truly part of different roles and organizations inside of Afghanistan.
"We made Afghanistan better," Meyer added. "The United States of America, its presence in Afghanistan, made Afghanistan safer for 20 years. Unfortunately, we're leaving it the way we did. Politics, once again… messes up a good thing."
Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor by former President Barack Obama on September 11, 2011, exactly 10 years after the attacks that motivated the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.
Now approaching the 20th anniversary of that tragic day, Meyer is more prone to reflect on the events of September 12, 2001.
"I would never wish for another 9/11, but I would give anything for another 9/12," Meyer said. "The events of 9/11 showed the strength of the United States of America. It's the last time in America's history that you've actually seen the true strength of the free world."
"The majority of America came together, and all these subcategories of whatever we want to identify as were shed away and we all came together as Americans," he added. "The patriotism has never been higher since. It truly was the definition of what united looks like in this country. And that's what 9/11 represents to me."