9/11: Nine Years Later

You’ll have to excuse this, sports fans. As I’m sure you’ve gathered from the title, this post has nothing to do with sports. But I’ve been watching a lot of The History Channel’s 9/11 programming leading up to the nine-year anniversary.

World Trade Center
A second airliner crashes into the World Trade Center. AP photo

I can’t promise this is going to be well-written. I simply felt compelled to collect my thoughts.

The attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, is one of those rare moments in history that everyone knows where they were when it happened. That’s cliché to say, but it’s true.

I was in class at Minnesota State Moorhead. It was a journalism class taught by Marv Bossart … that much I remember. Like everyone in class, I was glued to my computer, constantly refreshing the NBC News website’s story for updates and wondering how a commercial airplane could crash into a building the size of one of the World Trade Center towers. And like everyone else in class, once another airplane hit the second tower, I had a pretty good idea what was going on.

I remember that night thinking that the world had just changed. It didn’t require any reflection months or years later to come to that conclusion, unlike most life-changing events. Nothing would ever be the same. A certain amount of innocence has been lost since that day. The world just feels like a different place now.

But from such a deplorable act of terrorism we find tremendous feats of heroism. Some I had heard before this week, and some I’m just hearing about now in these History Channel specials. It’s amazing what some of the firefighters inside the World Trade Center did to save the lives of others.

And I never get tired of the story of what those on board Flight 93 did to prevent that aircraft from being piloted into another building. Instead, those on board risked their lives to make sure the plane crashed in a sparsely populated rural area in Pennsylvania.

I remember seeing a made-for-TV movie about that flight a few years back. I think it was on A&E or Discovery, not that it matters. I can’t remember the last time a movie had me in tears afterwards (I’m guessing it was in my childhood), but that one did. You were just left with the feeling that, “It shouldn’t have ended like that. Those passengers deserved better.” Not exactly your typical Hollywood ending.

And that day resulted in thousands of troops putting their lives in harm’s way to fight terrorism. Brave men and women. I’m sure we all know a few people who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Often on this blog I write about the exploits of athletes. But on a day like today, I think we could all use a reminder of who heroes really are.