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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Afghanistan veteran serving at Ground Zero because of it

Afghanistan vet finds a new way to serve
By Jeremy Bradley
CNN
January 1, 2013

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Ricardo Benejam was born and raised in New York City and saw the twin towers fall
Benejam enlisted in the Army and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 and 2009
He now works at the 9/11 Memorial as a visitor services host
Benejam: It's like you're continuing to serve because you're telling the story

(CNN) -- Ricardo Benejam is a born-and-bred New Yorker. He grew up with a view of the World Trade Center from the window of his childhood apartment in lower Manhattan.

On September 11, 2001, he was a freshman in high school when the twin towers fell.

"I had actually blurted out, 'We'll be going to war,'" he recalls. "You knew it wasn't an accident. That was my first thought at 14 [years old]."

He witnessed the devastation firsthand as he walked home that day.

"I saw cars that were littered with dust," he said. "I saw people in business suits that were littered in dust."

Benejam visits ground zero several times a week now, not just to pay respect to his fellow veterans or to reflect on the events that inspired him to serve his country. He works at the 9/11 Memorial.

"Working down there, it's like you're continuing to serve because you're telling the story of what happened and what was there before," he said.

Part of what makes his job so special is the bond he shares with other veterans visiting the site.

"You meet a veteran, and it's almost like seeing a brother or sister," Benejam said. "A lot of us have deployed (as a result of) what happened on 9/11."
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