My September 11th Retrospect
Every American has a different view and prospective on the horrific events of September 11th 2001. Anyone over the age of 10 will always have a memory of those twin towers smoking up like chimneys and the sound of all those tons of steel and concrete finally falling to rest at the base of the towers. We can not ever change the fate of those who dies or who sacirficed themselves that day. We also can not forget about the pain and the confusion as we wonder aloud what the world was going to be on September 12th for us.
I just want to state for the record that I am proud of the way the entire country pulled together for the citizens of New York City. And I am still remorsing over the loss of those two great towers that beamed freedom and power to the world as a symbol of the Big Apple.
I remember I was working on a vending route that day for Pepsi and was just coming out of the Franklin Templeton building in Carillion Parkway when the sky fell silient. I was within a 8 miles of Tampa airport, and about 5 miles from the small St. Petersburg/Clearwater airport. As I got into my truck, I was unaware of the first tower being hit by an American Airlines plane out of Boston for LA.
I pulled into the parking ot of a financial services company down the road and the receptionst ans ths taff were all huddled over the television watching the events when I got into the building. My pager then went nuts with 5 straight pagers from my company telling all trucks to finish their current stop and proceed back to the warehouse immediately. It seems that a company executive decided that we needed to be off the road in case of a similar episode here in the Tampa Bay area.
Considering we had MacDill Air Force Base near the city, it was decided that if they were targeting military and high profile locations, Central Command might be a target. So I proceeded by to the warehouse and sat with most of the plant’s employees wathcing the horrific events.
I could only think about how as a 10-year old, my uncle George took me on top of the north tower while it was being bult and showed me the sight of New York form a new prospective. How proud my uncle was of designing the express elevator system in the towers, and coming to work in such a great viewing enviorment every day. I got on my cellphone and tried to call him, but it seemed that most of the cicuits into New York at that time were being overwhelmed by family and friends checking to see if loved ones and friend were okay.
During that low point in American history, the Tampa Bay Rays were in a hotel in Manhattan preparing for a game against the New York Yankees. Of course with the danger surrounding New york at that time, the game was cancelled and players and Rays staff were advised to stay in the hotel as a security measure. When the Rays finally did get to play New York, it was the first day that baseball again got to be played in this great city.
It was a game surrounded by emotional episodes and truly patriotic gestures by fans and players. As a measure of rememberance, all the players uniforms had a American flag patch over the MLB label in the rear of the uniform. The players caps also had a stitched flag on the left side of the cap, closest to the heart.
It was a game not played for competition that day. Both teams were a bit numb, and it showed on the field. It was a game of healing for the fans and citizens of this great town. It was a show of trying to get back to normal, or try and figure out what normal was anymore. It was a contest that the score did not matter, and the score was bot remembered by the fans. It was their time to grieve, celebrate, and also ponder what to do now.
And the Rays considered it an honor that they could help this process for the city. Everyone knows the outpouring of the entire country for the citizens of New York City . But with the action of the Rays and Yankees playing a simple ballgame, it brought about a sense of getting back to life, and a place to remember and rejoice.
So on this day, 7 years ago, many NYC firefighters, Port Authority and NY police men perished in this disaster. I still have acap from Brian Rekar that in the brow has his number 35, and the “FDNY”, and “NYPD” in it in sharpie. He gave me the cap aftere the last game in 2001 at Tropicana Field, and I have had it in a case ever since that day.
It was a day that we will not forget, or can forget. But isn’t it a real joy to know that baseball helped the healing process in that time of grief and suffering. And for that reason, I am glad we did not play today in New York. The city has healed, the site has been excavated and is undergoing change, but the memory and the emotional pull of Ground Zero will always grow heavy on this nations heart.