Nine years ago today the country was changed forever. I still remember exactly where I was when I found out that the towers had been hit. I literally could not move from in front of my television for the rest of the day. You spend the day hoping for the best, and feel for everyone involved when you find out the worst. In one day we suffered terribly, but we also found out that we have a lot of heroes living among us. Some of those heroes rushed into the towers when they knew they might not get back out. They also overtook the terrorists on a plane to save another possible tragedy. Other heroes wento overseas to fight a war that we could not win. We learned that day that the real heroes are the everyday people that step up when the situation calls for it. Ten years ago we had a 9/11 every year. Ever since 9/11/2001 we will only really have one. The rest of them will always be days to remember that one.
Since this is a sports website I thought that I would explain how the events of that day affected me from that point of view. I have two distinct stories that are related to that fateful day in September. The first of those took place in September of 2001. The weekend after the attacks most of the college football slate was wiped clean. The games would take place later in the season for the teams involved. Our local high school played on that Friday night, and the chills I felt that night as my brother played the national anthem with the band before the game cannot be described. (Maybe a better writer could, but this is a blog so what do you expect?) The next day was my brothers birthday and his high school band played at Valparaiso University. It was one of the few college games played that day. Once again the band sent chills down my spine when they played the anthem. In those days after 9/11 this country was as patriotic as I have ever seen it. The following weekend at Purdue was a great display of that patriotism. Before every home game “I Am An American” is read during the flag ceremony. It always has been the highlight of my Purdue weekend. On September 22, 2001 though it really was fantastic. I couldn’t tell you offhand what the final score was of that game, but I remember how charged the crowd was for the patriotic pre game ceremonies. The picture at the top of the post was taken from my seat as the Purdue student section showed their pride. The crowd that day at Ross-Ade let loose when it was time to say “I Am An American.” The country was all together that day, and it was great to be a part of that kind of pride. Those memories seem like they are very far away as fractured as the country has seemed to be since then. That day had a few other memories as two grown men ate a 50 piece bucket of Chicken McNuggets after the game on the way to a bachelor party.
The second memory happened on 9/11, but has little to do with the attacks that happened three years before. It was 9/11/2004, and I had a vacation planned to come back to Indiana from being trapped in Iowa. My brother was having his 21st birthday on 9/15 so I was coming home to help celebrate. We got tickets from a friend for the Purdue game against Ball State. The game just happened to be on 9/11. We had a great day which included a breakfast on the way that allowed me to laugh again in person with my father and my brother. We have always been close, and that day we had a blast. After being marooned in Iowa it was great to be with family again. The field was bordered with an American flag, and looked awesome. After spending way too many hours in a factory it was great to just be outside. Kyle Orton led the #25 Purdue Boilermakers to a 59-7 victory over Ball State. It was the most lopsided win at Ross-Ade ever at the time. The team racked up 599 yards of offense on the day. The picture above shows Kyle getting ready to get the ball in the shotgun. Near the end of the game the students were so bored that they started chanting “Ball State High School.” The alumni I was sitting with at first thought it was terrible, but soon started laughing along with the kids. With a win like that you have to be happy. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.