September 11, 2011

More Emotion on Tenth Anniversary than Other 9/11's for this Fortunate Blogger

Ten years. I can't believe how fast it's gone. It's amazing for me to think how time seemed to just slow down on September 11th, 2001. It was a feeling that is often difficult to put into words.

Growing up, my parents always talked about one of the biggest events from their childhood - the assassination of President Kennedy - and how every detail of that day is still engraved in their minds. I never understood the magnitude of the stories they were telling me.

For me, the day started off just like many other September 11ths had for the previous 13 years. It was a sunny day, with temperatures floating between that late summer/early fall range. Seeing as it was just the second week of school, the "beginning of the year excitement" was still there. Not to mention, it was also my first time in a new school as I had just began high school. Shortly after waking up, I was greeted by the voices of my mom, dad and brother singing "Happy Birthday" and received gifts and cards to celebrate the occasion. Little did I know what I was in store for on my first birthday in high school.

Still in the process of getting acclimated and navigating a school much larger than what I had been used to for the previous nine years I was able to find my way to my second period class, Social Studies. This, ironically is the same class that Sean and I talk about on the show as the one we first became friends in. I sat in the second row from the door, first seat. Our conversation on ancient Asia was interrupted by the very shaky and unsure voice of our principal, explaining what was going on in Manhattan.

Panic set in, and no one quite understood what was going on. We knew it wasn't good. My social studies teacher turned all different kinds of colors. It was his first year teaching, and you could tell how unsure he was as he tried to decide if it was better to continue with the lesson or just stop all together. He tried to continue.

The way Northport High School is set up is a bit different from other schools. In the main part of the school is an area that students and teachers alike refer to as the "commons." This is where students can hang out, and it consists of TVs which usually have some kind of news broadcast on them. People surrounded the TVs that day. There weren't many classes that day as many teachers were too distraught to teach, so students congregated around the TVs to try and fathom what exactly was going on.

Students were taken out of school during the duration of the day. My mother didn't come to get me out that day early, but did show up at the end of the day to pick me up. After talking with her for a few seconds, my attention immediately turned to wondering about the well being of my cousin, who worked on the 86th floor of the North Tower. I consider myself and my family very fortunate as he was called out to a meeting in New Jersey at 8:30 that morning.

People always feel bad when they find out that I celebrate my birthday on 9/11, and their wishes often come with condolences. I consider myself fortunate to have not lost anyone close to me. Meanwhile, others have had their lives turned upside down. A birthday seems like small potatoes to me at that point.

However, in 2001 it gave me a terrible feeling as it would for any 14 year old. Just like any good grandparents would do, mine called me as they always did every year to sing and wish me a good day.

"Thanks," I said. "I completely forgot it was my birthday, actually. I didn't want fireworks on my birthday."

Both my grandfather and grandmother tried to explain to me that the day was still special because I was born, and I had the ability to do special things as I move on in life. It's the same grandfather who's viewing will be today, on the 10 year anniversary of the attacks after passing away on Friday morning. There isn't a better person I can think of when it comes to who I want to spend the day with.

I recently came across an interesting article on ESPN about the healing power of sports. While many will downplay it, I truly feel that time and time again it has been proven that they do.

I was always an avid baseball fan, but spent that summer learning about hockey after going to my first Islanders game in December of 2000 and falling in love. I knew I wanted to be a super fan of the sport. For someone young, having entire leagues shut down temporarily just showed you what kind of magnitude this had. Unfortunately for some of my friends, that's what it took for them to get it.

Sports served as the perfect distraction for New York that year. The Mets came back against their hated rivals in the Braves and defeated them in grand fashion in the first few days after play resumed. The Yankees went all the way to the World Series, leaving us with some really memorable moments from late October and early November. And the Islanders, who had been so bad for so long stormed out of the gate to an 11-1-1-1 record. They would finish with 96 points and a 5th place finish in the Eastern Conference.

Sports brought everyone closer together in the days following the events. They gave a lot of folks plenty to be proud of and provided that distraction we all needed. It's these same sports that we can still enjoy thanks in large part to those who either died in the attacks or fighting overseas so we don't have to deal with something like this every again.

For those who were affected by the tragedy, I offer my condolences and my thanks for the part that you're loved one played in me being able to sit here and write about a sport and a team I am so passionate about.

Thanks, and God bless.


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