10 Years Later: A Tragedy Remembered


At 8:46am on September 11th, 2001, the world was forever changed. Life as we knew it in the United States would never be the same and the image of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center towers is emblazoned in all of our memories. All told, after 19 terrorists attempted four organized attacks, 2,977 innocent people lost their lives on that dreadful day. There was irreversible damage, both emotionally and physically, on every single American. The events on that morning were tragic and painful, but at least for a short period of time, the country was united like never before against a terrorist force. Now 10 years after the attacks, we still feel the effects in many aspects of our lives.

Everyone has a story and a vivid memory of what they were doing when they found out these attacks had occurred. In an incredible source of irony, I heard about the attacks just before beginning a history class. We walked into the room, all of us with uncertain shock on our face, to find our history teacher with the TV on, tuned to coverage of the event. The second plane was just about to hit the towers when everyone settled into the class in silence. My teacher made a statement that will forever be one of the most profound statements I have ever heard. He said, “Take a moment to think about where you are and what you are doing at this very moment, because you will never forget this for the rest of your life. This is your generation’s Pearl Harbor and life will never be the same again.”

That statement, coming from a mediocre history teacher, seemed a bit cheesy at the time, but it had an unbelievable impact on the 30 or so students in that class. Every year around this time, I get into conversations with co-workers and friends about 9/11. We reminisce about where we were, how old we were, and what we did after we found out the first plane had hit the tower in New York. The first thing that always comes to mind is that statement. In retrospect, my large, balding history teacher could not have been more right.

People remember the events of 9/11/01 in many different ways. Some writers are having a blackout (not writing all day), others are going to a memorial service near them, and many others will spend time watching and reliving the events on TV from their living rooms. I respect anyone who honors this day, whatever that means to you individually. For me, writing, thinking, and remembering is how I will honor those who lost their lives and how I will continue to remember the men and women who so bravely stepped in to help in the moments, days, and months after the attacks. They are true heroes in every possible way and deserve to be applauded at every opportunity.

Since this is a sports blog, it is a poignant time to take a step back and see the impact these events had, and still have, on the sports world. Immediately following the attacks, people were hesitant to watch and enjoy baseball. This gigantic event had shaken the foundation of our lives, so enjoying a baseball game seemed frivolous and almost immoral. The exact opposite was true however, and when baseball returned in New York about two weeks later, it provided a perfect escape from what had just rocked the city to its core.

As the 2001 season wound down, and baseball tried to return to normalcy, New Yorkers were treated to an Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees World Series that was filled with drama and intrigue. After going down 2-0 to the D-Backs, the Yanks won 3 straight games to take a series lead and come within one game of the ultimate crown. The D-Backs won game 6 by 13 runs, so the series continued to an intense game 7, for all the marbles, in Arizona. The Yankees were up 2-1 going into the bottom of the 9th inning. All of New York was on the edge of their seats, as Mariano Rivera looked to close the door. He allowed a single to Mark Grace, committed a throwing error to allow Damian Miller to reach, and after a bad bunt by pinch-hitter Jay Bell to get the first out of the inning, he allowed a run-scoring double to Tony Womack, hit Craig Counsell with a pitch, and then allowed a walk-off RBI single to Luis Gonzalez to end the game and the series.

The Yankees lost the dramatic series, but from October 27th through November 4th, New Yorkers had something to take their mind off of the reality of the events that had occurred just 7 or so weeks before. It was probably the only time in my life that I have rooted for the Yankees to win, because this series was more than just another appearance by the evil empire in the big dance, but rather a desperately needed distraction for millions of people in the greater New York City area.

Now 10 years after the fact, the sports landscape is still vastly different than before. When entering into sports arenas or stadiums, security is significantly tighter than it was before 2001. Bags are checked thoroughly and in some cases, each person is given a pat-down to ensure no one is carrying anything that could harm others. There is a heightened-level of security and surveillance at every major sports facility, because a large gathering of people in one place creates a potential target for other attackers. This has become a priority across all sports, forever changing the experience of heading to the ballpark on a Sunday afternoon.

We are all guilty of getting frustrated at one point or another because it is taking a long time get into a stadium because of security, but these are the days that remind us to take a step back and think about why it is taking so long. The number one lesson in history is to learn from past events, and not let them be repeated. That is exactly what these security measures are designed to do.

Rarely do I ever ask something of my readers beyond just reading and enjoying, but today I have one simple request. Take a moment or two this weekend, and in your own way, remember the events of 9/11/2011 and those who lost their lives. For those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks, I send my sincerest sympathy this weekend and want you to know that we will never forget. Life goes on, but the memory remains…

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