Reflections of a middle-school football player during 9/11

·2 min read

As we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, it feels fitting that I will spend it watching football. When I watch Notre Dame and Toledo battle it out in South Bend, I will feel a connection to these players. That’s because at the time of the attacks, as crazy as it sounds for the people I know, I was a football player for my Catholic parochial school at the tender age of 12.

I say this because it was football that really drove home the point to me on how big and how serious these attacks were. Towards the end of school that day, an announcement came on the PA that the evening’s JV practice was canceled. This didn’t affect me because I was on the varsity, and it was a scheduled day off. Still, I wondered why that was happening for no apparent reason because the school had chosen not to inform its students of that morning’s events, so we were completely in the dark until after we were let out.

The next day, we returned to practice, and that’s when I really felt the gravity of what was happening. From our field, we always saw airplanes coming in for landings. Now, with civilian airspace closed, the sky was completely empty. It was one of the most eerie things I’ve ever seen.

A few weeks later, we were at halftime of a game when it was announced that the first troops had entered Afghanistan. The PA announcer led everyone, including us players, in a reciting of the Lord’s Prayer. It was the least we could do for the men and women who were heading into combat. Little did we know that they would have a presence in that country for almost 20 years.

It was a season I never will forget, and it’s why I hope the Irish and Rockets understand the significance of playing a game today. They either weren’t born or were too young to know what was happening on a day we commemorate every year. The post-9/11 world is all they’ve ever known. That we’re saying this about today’s college football players is a testament to how much time has passed.

Let us never forget that terrible day, and let us never forget the people who perished.

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