Visionaries in Service: Ashley Nicolas

  • November 3, 2021
Woman with short light brown hair in navy blue blazer and brighter blue shirt

Our Salute to Service blog series - featuring Visionaries whose personal experiences inspired them to join the United States military - continues today with Ashley Nicolas, a Pat Tillman Foundation Scholar. An assistant DA with the Southern District of New York, Ashley will speak as part of the fourth annual Summit on Security November 10, alongside thought leaders from the private and public sectors. Here, she answers a few questions about 9/11 and the way it shaped her path. 

In what way(s) did your connection to September 11 shape your path to military service?
I was a high school student in upstate New York on September 11, 2001. Even before that day, I had planned to join the military but to me - and many of my peers - September 11th felt like our generation’s call to service and galvanized our desire to step up.

What about the leaders under whom you served has stayed with you the most?
I served at a time of extremely high operation tempo - deployments were frequent, long, and difficult. That took a toll of the force and their families. The very best leaders I encountered recognized that dynamic and invested in the members of their units as nuanced and complicated individuals. The best teams are led by people who care, are willing to listen, and pay attention to the small stuff.

Men and women joining the military today have no living memory of 9/11. Why is it important that they visit the Memorial & Museum to understand both the attacks and the ongoing consequences? 
The events of September 11th and the decisions made in the days and years that followed have shaped our current nation security apparatus. We are who we are today - good and bad - in large part because of those decisions. Men and women joining the military today need to understand that and need to be keenly aware of the lessons we’ve learned. The Memorial & Museum serves to inspire and ground all of us - especially those in uniform. It will also remind those who serve our nation of the sanctity of the oath they’ve taken and what they must be prepared to defend.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

Note: As part of Salute to Service, U.S. military veterans will receive free Museum admission from Thursday, November 11 through Sunday, November 14, with up to three guests at a 50 percent discount. Reserve your tickets

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A bearded young man in an army uniform stands with weapons against a desert backdrop

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