Sep 9, 2011 5:31 PM by Melissa Hawkes

9/11 Changed the Lives of Many Acadiana Soldiers

Nine-eleven sent shock waves through our country, placing a fear of terrorism in many people's minds. That tragic day encouraged some them to put their life on the line and fight back, like Lafayette resident Mark Graham.

He was senior at St. Thomas More when it happened.

His brother, Steven Graham, said "a lot of people that age- it affected their lives in such a way they chose to take that course and take that action. He felt it was his duty to go serve his country."

Three years after graduating, Mark enlisted in the army. He was deployed to Iraq in 2006.

"He was the gunner. He was actually in the vehicle standing up whenever the ID went off," Graham said. "The other three people in the vehicle didn't last-didn't have a chance."

Mark was paroling outside Baghad when his vehicle was hit. He had only been in Iraq four months. He was badly burned and both of his legs had to be amputated.

His brother said, "he made sure that if something did happen, people would know how he felt. I think in that sense, he was very courageous. He knew the very real possibility that he wouldn't come back."

Mark did come back to the US, but only briefly. He died in a burn specialty hospital in San Antonio, Texas five days after the attack with his whole family by his side.

" As bad as things were, we got to have some closure-other families don't even have that," Steven said. "It's almost as if he waited for everyone to get there."

Even though Mark's life was cut short, his legacy lives on through a foundation formed in his honor called 'MG 20 20' . It's a nickname his brothers gave him.

You can visit to find out more.



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