With the coming news of the death of the world’s most notorious terrorist Osama Bin Laden, comes to this writer/fan/fiancé/brother/son/singer/dancer/artist and lastly Veteran, comes the memories of the past 10 years both in and out of Football. As I sit here cautiously debating on what to say I think back at how the events of 9/11 helped bring us together as a country and as fans. The images of the towers being struck will forever be engrained in our memories, as President Bush stated at the time, it is a moment that we will all remember where we were, as the late and great President Roosevelt had said about Pearl Harbor “It is a day that will live in infamy” this seemed to ring true for September 11th 2001 as well. The memories of the week when Football restarted will always be in my mind as well, I remember tearing up and the hairs rising on the back of my head and arms as the crowds chanted USA!!! USA!!! As the players ran out onto the field waiving the American Flag as if to say to everyone in one voice this is our House, this is our Country, and we will not go down without a fight. I remember the faces of everyone in the crowds on the various stations as they played the Star Spangled Banner, the faces of the players tearing up, holding hands as the teams walked out onto the field in unison for the coin toss and the shaking of hands and hugs as they returned to their benches. National tragedies are that indeed, they are travesties that emotionally and psychologically impact us in ways we never thought possible, but it also brought out the best in every American, it brought out the best in us as fans, as players and as owners.
That year the Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl (some say very coincidentally) and I remember seeing the pre-game celebration, I remember the fireworks and the grandeur, the same atmosphere that had risen months before was
on prominent display again for the whole world to see this time. To show the world this is America, we are strong, we are proud, we are still standing and we are still here.
Several months later I would find myself enlisting in the United States Navy, being the son of two retired Navy service members and the only one of 6 kids to join, I found myself thrust into a world of Honor, Duty, Courage, Commitment and Democracy. I would be forever changed from boot camp forward in every aspect, from a snot nosed punk to a proud man, from a scrawny kid to a trained military vessel capable of issuing controlled violence and rage. Many of my memories of the war I do not speak about, I do not go into detail due to what I feel are obvious reasons.
One memory I would like to share with you occurred on May 1st 2011, yes this was yesterday, I consider this a war memory because for all of us who joined because of the attacks on 9/11, for all of us who served and got out, for all of us who have tried our best to slip back into civilian life, yesterday was a day of closure, the mission was truly accomplished that night. The mission to bring those to justice who committed such a horrific act had been complete and our promise to our country had been fulfilled, even though we are not currently in, all of us contributed to his death in some way, shape or form, the effort of 10 years’ worth of military assault by countless thousands can be laid to rest. The job we enlisted to fulfill is finally complete and we may sigh with relief knowing that the watch is still being stood, that the men and women who took the same oaths as us are capable of providing the very freedom and protection that we once took upon our shoulders, we may now rest in peace.
As I watched the news unfold I found myself rejoicing inside and fighting back tears of elation, the death of one man could mean so much to billions of people around the world was truly a moment to wrap around in. The images of the crowds in New York and Washington made me wish I were there to celebrate, the images of the celebrations at Universities across America made me wish I were back in college. I remained quiet however, I barely clapped but instead I allowed myself to come to peace, like so many other veterans, with my war.
With the 2011 NFL lockout situation currently taking root in the countless water cooler and office conversations across the country, let this event remind us of all that is good in this country, if the NFL can resume after a national tragedy such as 9/11 then it can most certainly resolve an issue in labor cost. The NFL will resume business in good time, and until then we will just have to sit back and laugh as they publicly debate about who should get what. Because honestly, do any of us really care about who makes what? All we want is Football……and pictures of Bin Laden’s body.