Eliel Pimentel was a senior at West Point Military Academy in the fall of 2001 when terrorists attacked the U.S. on 9/11. He recalls the feeling of urgency he and his peers shared when it happened; they hoped they'd be allowed to graduate early to serve their country, just as the World War II era West Point generation had done.
"We were thinking, hoping, we would graduate in December instead of May so we could go do what had to be done," he said. "That goes for every single person in the school. We just wanted to go do what we were training to do."
Instead, Pimentel said they had to stay and finish school, as West Point went on lockdown for three weeks. He got his chance to do his part for the U.S. Army, though, when he was deployed to Afghanistan for a year and Iraq for 15 months as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The one positive thing he will remember in the immediate aftermath of 9/11: "The galvanization of our patriotic sense," he said. "Suddenly ... everybody understood."
Pimentel came home for good in October of 2007, and , he brought the Edward Jones brand of financial advising to East Setauket.
But for him, watching the events of 9/11 unfold – even from afar – had an impact.
"I always sort of suspected that evil was real in the world, because you read a lot about it," Pimentel said. "But because of 9/11 I spent some time in two foreign lands. ... I’m a witness to the fact that human beings can be very evil. That kind of stays with you for a long time."