Looking back on September 10, 2001, the day before our country’s history was dramatically changed forever, the Denver Broncos ironically hosted the New York Giants for the first ever regular season game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High (then Invesco field) . To conclude week one of the regular season, the Broncos ran away with a 31-20 victory over the Giants. However, they also took a huge hit when wide receiver Ed McCaffrey broke his leg and was lost for the season.
That hit was nothing compared to the hit the New York Giants and the rest of their city took the next day, September 11, 2001.
Ten years after the catastrophic attacks in 2011, a very different Giants team took the field to play the Washington Redskins, a team from another area that was just as effected by the events that put the United States of America on high alert.
As NFL teams across the league honored the 10 year anniversary, flags flew high, flyovers flew even higher, and players were allowed to wear red, white, and blue shoes and gloves without being fined.
It seems like yesterday that we watched (if we were lucky enough not to be in it) smoke roll over New York City and the Pentagon like a swimming pool cover. The contrast from the perfect deep blue cloudless sky was surreal. The sounds and sights were all wrong. We became hyper aware of our surroundings, the sensations in our bodies, and the thoughts running through our minds.
In the NFL, we mark yards, we mark touchdowns, and we mark milestones. Today, we mark 12 years since national external chaos instantly turned into internal sadness and anger. We mark years gone by where victims are still missed everyday. We mourn the futures that were taken away. On this day, families are honored for their loved ones’ courage. We honor our service men and women, those who have died in battle, those who fought our war, and those who are still over there tying up loose ends.
Terrorists want to cause division because division leads to weakness, whether it’s a broken heart or ongoing fear. This day is branded by our strength as a country and our ability to rebuild.
As we remember 9/11, the military personnel, the firefighters, the police departments, the EMTs, doctors, and nurses, the heros, the survivors, the victims, the U.S. citizens, let’s not forget to do the things that we love to do every day and express gratitude while doing them.
Today marks a past calamity and validates an ongoing journey. The journey may never lead us to the ideal destination where 9/11 never even happened, but remembering the day itself is endlessly healing.
Same time, next year, the 11th day of September.