[Written by A.J. Manderichio]
I still remember vividly that fateful day ten years ago. I just began eighth grade, my final year in our school's middle school. Soccer season was just around the corner, and the prospect of having my favorite teacher for German made me excited to get the year started. During homeroom, the teachers used to put on NY-1. It was an educational channel, and they cut live to the scene in the New York. We didn't understand what was going on, and it faded into the background. But then, just like that, we watched live as the second plane flew into the towers. Immediately, the whole class became silent.
Around the school, there was pandemonium. Several parents came to get their children out of school, and the office worked to find out if parents were ok. My best friend's mother came and picked us both up from school, her face covered in tears. Outside, the area looked peaceful. The sun shone brightly, without a cloud in the sky. No planes flew overhead, an unpleasant feeling. We went back to his house, and by that time, the first tower fell. We watched in terror the scenes in the city, and saw the second tower fall live.
During the rest of the day, we remained glued to the television screen. I watched as the news showed people jumping out of windows, crying the entire time. Eventually, my parents came and picked me up. I spent the next few hours in stunned silence, afraid to be alone. I sat on the steps at home, scared that another attack would occur.
After that event, we saw the definition of selflessness. My uncle, a cop in New Jersey, went with the rest of his PBA to clear out the rubble in Ground Zero. To this day, he won't speak about the countless horrors he saw underneath the twisted metal. Everyone found ways to give in and help those who lost a family member or a friend. Drives organized by my local community helped raise money for the victims. As the cleanup continued and the death toll rose, we all understood that, in this time of need, we needed to help our neighbor.
New York sports represented the greatest outlet for emotional relief. The Yankees made their run to the World Series, the Mets provided late season fireworks, and the Jets and Giants helped fans pull through tough times. They couldn't cure all the pain and suffering. But what those teams did was make us forget, if only for a few hours, about the tragedy and loss. Each athlete became an emotional crutch, putting the entire region on their back.
The 10th anniversary of 9/11 will bring back countless memories of pain, suffering, and the ability to overcome even the most tragic losses. But what we need to remember are those days of unity, when the entire New York region stood united as one people. This event left a distinct mark in the lives of us all, one that can never be forgotten.