Whatever they have in mind, the New York Mets will have a tasteful display tonight in honor of the September 11 terrorist attacks. It will be emotional, especially for the first responders who lost family and friends, it won’t reach the level of the night when baseball returned to New York at Shea Stadium and Mike Piazza permanently reached folk hero status.
Nothing can duplicate that night because nerves were still frayed raw and lower Manhattan was continuing to smolder.
Every year we remember, as we should, and the events of that day will simply be identified by the date, similar to December 7 and June 6.
Americans died then, and sadly, there are fewer and fewer who remember. September 11 will stay fresh for a long time, especially since Americans are still dying in the Middle East, one of the ramifications of that day.
Like all of you, I remember where I was and what I was doing at the time. I’ll never forget, and don’t need a slogan to help me remember.
My wife and I were on the New Jersey Turnpike, just having passed the exit to Philadelphia, when I heard the news on the radio. At first it was one plane and details were sketchy. Then it was two and all the world knew it was no accident.
We were moving to New York from Maryland. Our movers were volunteer firemen from New York. They left our stuff at one of the rest stops and hustled back into the city before the bridges were closed.
We had to drive north through New Jersey and circle back down into Connecticut to get to our new home. There was no television hook-up, but I was transfixed by the radio coverage, like America was on December 7 and June 6.
I was covering the Yankees at the time, and they were to open a series with the Chicago White Sox that night. I suppose the White Sox got home by bus, passing the volunteers heading the opposite direction into New York.
Both the Mets and Yankees were commendable in their efforts to comfort, but sadly some shots were fired across the bow as to which organization did more. The Mets were in the forefront because the Shea Stadium parking lot was used as a staging area, and there were countless photos of Bobby Valentine and his players loading supplies.
Both teams visited hospitals and fire houses in the city, as the Mets did yesterday.
I never felt safer on an airplane than when play resumed and the Yankees traveled to Chicago. “We hate the Yankees, but love New York,’’ read several banners.
It was an odd feeling to watch baseball again, but as the game progressed, it became more comfortable.
But not normal. Never normal again.
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