"A great tragedy has befallen my nation today"
-(Ret.) Gen. Colin Powell, 9/11/01
(Ed. note: This was originally published September 11, 2009.)
September 11, 2001 was day that affected not just Americans, but the entire world. It changed our way of life and for many, their view on the world. Among those lost on that fateful Tuesday morning eight years ago were two members of the hockey world, Mark Bavis and Garnet "Ace" Bailey. Both were part of the Los Angeles Kings scouting team and were aboard Flight 175 from Boston, which crashed into the South Tower that day.
(Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau wrote in his book that he was supposed to be on that flight as well, but he was asked to be a pre-training camp meeting for the Kings a day earlier.)
Bavis played his college puck at Boston University under legendary head coach Jack Parker before being drafted by the New York Rangers in 1989 and playing several years of minor league hockey. After giving up playing, Bavis turned to coaching where he was an assistant at Harvard University and later the Chicago Freeze of the NAHL.
Bailey had a notable playing career that began when he won the Memorial Cup in 1966 with the Edmonton Oil Kings and later hoisted the Stanley Cup twice as a member of the 1970 and 1972 Boston Bruins. He traveled around playing with Detroit, St. Louis, Washington and spent one year in the WHA with the Edmonton Oilers during Wayne Gretzky's rookie season in 1978-79. After retiring from the game in 1981, Bailey moved on to the Oilers front office and ended up winning five Stanley Cup rings as a scout.
In 2000, the Kings brought Bavis in as an assistant scout under the team's director of pro scouting, "Ace" Bailey.
Since that day, foundations have been set up in the names of Bavis and Bailey. The Mark Bavis Leadership Foundation donates tuition grants to selected recipients while the Ace Bailey Children's Foundation establishes and improves hospital programs, environments and professional services that reduce the stress of hospitalization for newborns, children and their families. The NHL has partnered with the Ace Bailey Children's Foundation for a grassroots campaign called that "Got Skills Competition" for pre-teen boys and girls that holds skills event competitions with the help of 11 teams.
The memories of Bavis and Bailey will live on and not beforgotten. As someone who will identify September 11, 2001 as the defining moment of my generation, I'll forever remember where I was that fateful morning.
I was a few weeks into my junior year of college and working at the university's career center. On Tuesday's I would work from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., head to class, then back to work from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. I walked into the office and everyone was gathered in the conference room watching the television. A plane had hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center. It was a startling sight. Just 18 minutes later, at 9:03 a.m. ET, it became just more than a startling sight. It became my generation's Kennedy assassination.
The rest of the day, the campus was buzzing with fellow students and staffers trying to get in touch with loved ones around the country and in the New York City area. When we weren't on the phone calling friends and loved ones, we were glued to our televisions watching updates. In this situation, classes were of no importance; we understood the meaning of what happened that morning.
It's hard to believe it's been eight years since the attacks took place. It seems like yesterday.
Being born and raised in New York, but going to college in South Florida, the weeks after September 11th were tough. I wanted to go home just to be home. Even though there was nothing I could do beside donate money towards the relief efforts, I felt the need to want to help, however I could, yet I was too far away to get my hands dirty.
I didn't know anyone personally who died that day, but a girl who lived across the hall from me lost dozens of people from her town that worked in both buildings. I couldn't imagine having the town I grew up in ravaged by such a tragic event. Whether you lost someone or didn't, everyone was looking for some sort of solace, some sort of distraction to get them through September 11th.
Staring at the television for hours was not going to help people move forward. For many, sports became the favorable distraction from the sights of workers and cranes sorting through the rubble.
While people fail to unify majority of the time, especially in an election year, it's sports that are able to bring us together. It doesn't matter if you're a Flyers fan or a Penguins fan or a Rangers fan or an Islanders fan; it's the sport itself that gathers our attention and makes us forget about everything else going on in the world and our individual worlds.
And nothing can make us forget what happened on that Tuesday morning eight years ago today.