The Day Before 9/11

In Korea, a soldier’s daughter is jetlagged and lost in her new school. In Germany, a military family welcomes the birth of a second child. In the aftermath of 9/11, both families—dads, moms, and kids—will fight the war on terror.

A harrowing true story that spans America’s first decade post-9/11, The Day Before 9/11 portrays in riveting detail the sacrifices made by military families serving overseas and the enduring pain that accompanies the tragic loss of life.

From the Author

The Day Before 9/11 is a true story. Nothing I learned in college or experienced as a teacher in upstate South Carolina or rural Florida prepared me for being a Department of Defense teacher on a U.S. military installation in Korea in the aftermath of 9/11.

The Day Before 9/11Parents began deploying. Kids started spiraling in a bad way. We all felt stressed and anxious, living in a foreign country under the constant threat of terrorist reprisals as our military took action in Afghanistan. Then one morning a Chaplain walked into our school and everything got worse. We lost eight guys from our small military community.

All teachers experience student-related tragedies—it’s inevitable when you cross paths with hundreds, even thousands of kids, year after year. You expect that one day it will happen, but until I saw that Chaplain walk into my school I never lived in fear of it.

I was a teacher, coach, and athletic director, and I was used to students trusting me with their problems, coming to me for advice, and looking to me for help—but in the aftermath of 9/11 it was overwhelming, and suffocating, because it was pretty simple logic: I teach military kids. Our military is at war. My kids are going to suffer.

And they did, in ways I could never have imagined were possible.

As America observed the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, our military families continued to serve overseas, sacrificing every day in defense of everything that is good and honorable about our country. The events in The Day Before 9/11 are true. They are horrific, and it was painful to write—but it’s my hope that by telling this story I can honor our kids who serve and sacrifice overseas every day alongside their military parents.


The Day Before 9/11 … A potpourri of images, a mosaic of feelings and emotions that takes the reader on a journey of sacrifice, pain, loss, triumph, relationships, and hopefully redemption. Tucker Elliot’s experiences as a coach, teacher, son, role model and most importantly, as a human being are a great example of the undeniable challenge the human spirit undergoes in the pursuit of excellence, in the pursuit of being relentless, and the difficulty it encounters in the complexity of living in the reality of a new normal; in the aftermath of tragedy, both global but more importantly, personal.”

– Ricardo Buitrago, Ph. D., Psychologist, Department of Defense Dependents Schools, Germany

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