As a huge football fan, I was anxiously looking forward to the opening weekend of the NFL. The kickoff game between the Packers and the Saints was great, and Sunday’s games looked to be just as promising. In the end as I recall my first relaxing football Sunday of the season, however, I’m struck by something so much more powerful.
I knew that Sunday was the 10th anniversary of 9-11, and I had read about all that the NFL was planning in tribute. I knew I would be emotional, but I had no idea just how deep those emotions would run. The thing is, I didn’t have a personal relationship with anyone lost that day but somehow the tragic losses and sacrifices of that day still feel very personal to me. Like so many, I remember every moment of that fateful morning. I watched the second plane hit and I sat in my bed, paralyzed, horrified and helpless as the nightmare unfolded before my eyes.
Leading up to this past weekend I had been reading the articles and watching the videos about the victims. The loved ones left behind, the children who were orphaned and the heros who gave all, either in their life that day, or in the after effects and cancers now shortening their remaining time as a result of their selfless acts. As I watched the tributes on Sunday, it struck me how appropriate it was that these tributes should happen in and around sporting events such as this.
Even at a game such as the Steelers/Ravens, a VERY ugly rivalry – enemies united and found common ground in the pre-game tributes. As I thought about it, there really are very few things that unite people in this country more than sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, baseball, hockey or whatever your sport of choice – if you’re a fan, you understand what I’m referring to when I talk about the brotherhood and the camaraderie that come with being a “fill-in-your-team-here” fan.
I saw and felt that same feeling as an American in the aftermath of 9-11, and I know many others who did as well. I guess it’s a sad statement that it took such a senseless tragedy to ignite that patriotic candle that seemed to have nearly burnt out for so many, but nevertheless, I felt that candle burning very bright in everyone I saw and spoke to in those days that followed. “Never Forget” is a statement often used to refer to what happened that day, and I think that message is extremely important.
I have always considered myself to be patriotic. I’m married to an Army veteran and yes, I believe that children should learn and recite the national anthem in school. I have at time found myself very conflicted because I am so disheartened by the political bullshit that goes on in this country, and I believe we’ve largely lost sight of the values that this country was founded on. Nevertheless, following this weekend, I find myself motivated once again to ensure that my sons know and learn the proper respect for their country and for those that have given life and limb to protect them and their freedoms. God Bless America!