Tomorrow college football will be on. Like many of you, I’ll crack my first beer open around noon, lose twenty dollars, and scream at my TV because a nineteen-year-old with higher athletic ability than me couldn’t manage to keep one foot in bounds to make a catch. And while I’m so happy that I’ll be in a maskless bar with a bunch of girls wearing next to nothing, we all must remember what tomorrow really signifies.
9/11 is so much more than an infamous picture of a fireman or grainy CNN footage of the North Tower collapsing. As a kid from the northeast, the anniversary of 9/11 means remembering shoveling snow for my nextdoor neighbor who didn’t have a son to take care of her in her old age, the way we all crane our necks when a plane is flying low, and tearing up rewatching Mike Piazza hit a homerun for the thousandth time. 9/11 is my teammates glaring up in the stands to see nobody cheering them on, a litany of single Mothers taking Prozac at the desks of their new jobs, and the fact that I don’t care how fucking late I am for a flight or the fact that a fat guy with a TSA badge is basically giving me an over-the-pants handjob because god forbid something like that ever happen again. I understand why people argue: why remember something that occurred in 2001 when we are going through a shitstorm now? Or the fact that people don’t want to make themselves upset after an abysmal year, but by choosing to forget, you are not acknowledging the everyday heroes and military personnel that laid their goddamn lives on the line. So in an effort to remember and restore faith in humanity, I give you the most heroic 9/11 stories you’ve never heard of.
Todd Beamer: On September 11th, 2001, Todd Beamer was a passenger on United Airlines flight 93, a flight from Newark New Jersey International Airport, destined for San Francisco. Beamer was a father of 3, and as his wife saw the first tower collapse, she was terrified for Todd. Around the time the flight had eclipsed the Pennsylvania border, Todd and other passengers were overtaken by hijackers with box-cutting knives; two old people died in the original struggle. Beamer immediately took what little action he could because the hijackers told passengers and staff they had a bomb and were not afraid to use it. He called his wife, who told him about the first tower, and he informed passengers that he didn’t know where they were going, but they were going to kamikaze into some historically prominent building/landmark. Beamer then used the airplane phone to call air traffic control. On the phone with the lady from air traffic control, he kept her on the line as he hyped other passengers up to fight off the terrorists, palpably aware that the survival rate for this situation was slim to none. His last audibly heard words were, “You ready? Okay. Let’s roll.” The phrase has become a colloquialism for the heroes on flight 93, who saved countless lives by fighting off people who intended to crash that very plane into the Pentagon. George W. Bush even used the reference in his State of the Union address in 2002. If you want to honor Todd and possibly roll molly for a Travis Scott concert, be patriotic in saying, “Let’s roll.” Godspeed, Mr. Beamer.
My Uncle Rob: Rob is my “uncle.” Everybody has a quotes, Uncle. He was your Dad’s best man at the wedding; they grew up together, yadayadayada. Rob was not a hero that day, but his story is nevertheless short and makes you think. In the 6th grade, I did a project on Rob for Social Study class, so I decided to interview him face to face, and I’m really grateful I did. Rob worked somewhere in the first tower; I want to say Morgan Stanley, but I’m not certain.The first tower collapsed at 10:28 am, meaning that anybody still in there was as good as dead. Rob would have been crushed in the rubble based on where he worked in the tower, except Rob had been addicted to cigarettes for ten years. Rob would be dead today if it weren’t for good ole cowboy killers.
Kevin Cosgrove: If you cry easily or are a very emotionally active person, I would sit down before this one. Cosgrove was VP of Aon Corporation, which had its offices in the first tower. He was married to a teacher, and they had brought three kids into the world at this point. Kevin was 46, probably near the age of your own Father. Cosgrove is historically significant because the call he made at 10:24 am, from the first tower, ends with his last words.
Fucking chills. As awful as this call is, I always think to myself how New York/ New Jersey he sounds in panic. He easily could have been anybody’s Uncle,Brother,Dad,ect.
Pablo Ortiz/ Frank De Martini: These two men are the embodiment of what makes the tri-state area so beautiful. Just two friends who met working at Port Authority, from two different ethnic backgrounds, that saved 50 fucking lives on September 11th. These guys were un-breaching doors, clearing debris, and getting unconscious people to help as they were able to free access up on a stairwell where a majority of people on their floor used to get out. They were moving up, looking to help the floors above when the building collapsed.
Welles Crowther (Bandanna Boy): I would write about Welles to you guys, but ESPN did such an amazing job telling his story.
So tomorrow, remember these faces and the thousands of lives buried in Arlington. I know this past eighteen months has been incredibly divisive and NOT a trendy time to be Patriotic, but there are no exceptions for tomorrow. Hug the people you love a little tighter and recollect a tragedy without getting in a Twitter argument about some asshole’s two-shit opinion on it.