By Crystal Swartz
On the tenth anniversary of the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks on our nation, the spirit of America blanketed the fields and seats during the NFL’s Sunday Night kickoff. The NFL teams honored the memory of those lives lost on September 11, 2001 by partaking in emotional pre-game ceremonies.
The grit of football rivalry paused as moments of silence and our national anthem united the country into one indivisible team. Prior to every game, players, coaches, families, first responders and military personnel came together and held enormous American flags that were rolled out to cover the fields. Covering the fields with flags signifies that the presence of football will always take an extreme back seat to the horrors of 9/11. Remembering victims, appreciating freedom, and honoring bravery takes priority over touchdown celebrations.
Immediately following the 9/11 attacks, all major sporting events were cancelled. Many players were embarrassed to “play.” Gathering masses of fans for a game created a national security risk. While heartache and shock overwhelmed us, Americans realized stopping our usual way of life was one of the terrorists’ main goals. But we refused to succumb to terror. We began to rebuild. Sports resumed.
Days following the attacks, President George W. Bush walked onto the mound inside Yankees Stadium during game three of the World Series. He threw out the first pitch in front of thousands of fans and millions of viewers. Risky? Of course. Necessary? Absolutely. Thousands of fans gathered strong to watch their teams play on the first Sunday of the NFL 2011-2012 season. A united sports nation refused to let the anxiety from potential terroristic plots hamper its way of life. We are proud to be Americans and to have the freedom to be fans. We shall never forget.