Friday, September 11, 2009

A Thought on 9/11

I've always had kind of a love/hate with high school football, and that was never more true than when I was actually in high school. I love going to the games, the atmosphere is cool, and there have been a lot of great movies made regarding the sport. However, when compared to other sports and athletes in a given high school, I feel the football program gets catered to way too much. Spare me your backlash, I've already heard it all. And clearly, yes, I didn't play football.

But that's besides the point. As we all know, eight years ago America was attacked as two giant planes crashed into the heart of New York City. We all know where we were when we first found out, that's just something you can't forget if you tried. The rest of the week though is kind of a blur. I remember watching a lot of cable news, doing a lot of reflecting with my high school classes, and doing a lot of wondering about just how safe we really were in this country.

I think the biggest thing that sticks out from that week is the feeling of wondering if our lives would ever be the same. Late night talk shows were afraid to do comedy, professional sports leagues were afraid to play ball. Everything seemed to be put on hold, and rightfully so, as we all tried to determine what 9/11 would do to our country.

That's where high school football comes in. It was my senior year of high school, and the Fox Valley Association decided not to cancel football games for the week. The games would be played on their normal Friday night, just three days after the events of 9/11 occurred. Some questioned the move, others applauded it, but it was a decision we weren't really going to be able to judge until it was over.

I remember driving from Fond du Lac up to Appleton to the home of the Appleton West Terrors. The ride up was basically me and some friends blasting Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American", intertwined with discussions about if the Packers would ever wind up playing the Giants that season as they were scheduled to do in week two. As we pulled into Appleton, I remember just an onslaught of American flags everywhere you looked, and people would give us the thumbs up when they heard the boisterous voice of Greenwood.

When we got to the football field, it was business at usual. We spent the first half cheering, while the cool kids talked on their cell phones in the front row. But then at halftime, it was a picture I distinctly remember. The lights were shut off, everyone had candles, and we sat there in an extended moment of silence, reflecting on all the heroes and victims that died just three days prior.

So much was going through my head at that moment, but most importantly was this: This night wasn't about Appleton West against Fond du Lac. Two high school rivals battling it out on the gridiron just seemed so insignificant. The night was about all of us, all Americans, coming together and paying tribute to those who had their lives forever changed that day. This was about us having the freedom to be able to gather together, watch a bunch of kids play a meaningless game of football, yet scrutinize over every yard all at the same time. This was about us enjoying the very thing the terrorists wanted to take away from us.

Eight years later, that reflection isn't there. Sure, the cable news channels over the anniversary, but as far as everyday citizens, 9/11 is just another day. More often than not, jokes are made about the attacks rather than people reflecting on them. Sometimes I feel is if 9/11 never happened, and instead it was just another Hollywood blockbuster we all watched at the same time.

I know I'm getting borderline preachy here, and that wasn't my intention. Words and feelings are coming out of my fingers that I didn't even know I had. I just think that even though high school football is a little over the top at times, but for that one night it provided the perfect example of why America is so great. I just feel like that's something we need to remember a little more, especially on this day.

That's my thought on 9/11.


Bear said...

right on dude, this was pretty awesome to read.

I hear ya, i definitely feel like it wasnt real, that is until I think of that half time....

That and hearing the national anthem before the game, standing on the feel, are two things i'll never forget and when I think about those two moments today, I instantly feel the way I did at that time.

Nice post.

Bear said...

i meant to say standing on the field, obviously.

TZar said...

I will say that when I think of 9/11 I think of that Friday night as well. Everyone came together in a way that I will never be able to explain again. It was truly amazing. Hard to believe that it was 8 years ago.

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