Monday, May 2, 2011

Remembering John Schroeder

Peter Farrell came in this morning and said this:

"What a weekend. The men's track team did something that hadn't been done in more than 70 years, and Bin Laden's dead."

TigerBlog had every expectation of writing about the big win by the men's 4xmile team at the Penn Relays this past weekend, until he heard the news that Usama Bin Laden had been killed by the United States military. Once he heard that, TB knew he was putting track on hold for 24 hours.

After all, the death of Bin Laden is a huge moment for this country and the world. In some ways, it's similar to the death in 1945 - two days earlier, on April 30 - of Adolph Hitler in that Bin Laden was the murderous face of evil.

Of course, it's also dissimilar, in that Nazi Germany died with Hitler, while Al Qaeda lives on without Bin Laden. Amidst all of the celebrating going on over the news, it's important that nobody in this country lose track of that fact.

TigerBlog bailed on the Mets-Phillies game last night in the eighth, after Chris Young pitched seven shutout innings while allowing only two hits, because TB figured the bullpen would give it away, which sort of happened (the Mets would win in 14 innings, but Young got a no-decision).

Because of that, TB missed what had to be an amazing, never-to-be-forgotten moment, when the fans at Citizens' Bank Park learned the news of Bin Laden's death and began chanting "USA, USA."

Oh, and TB never had a doubt that when Bin Laden was finally killed, it would be because of the United States military, not anyone else. Bin Laden's death came after his compound - not cave - was swarmed by Navy SEALs who were, perhaps, at one time athletes at the United State Navy Academy.

And so the credit needs to be given where it belongs, to the military, to the intelligence community that connected the dots and to President Obama for giving the go-ahead.

When TB first heard the news this morning, he thought about the tens of thousands - hundreds of thousands perhaps - of innocent people who lost their lives as a direct result of Bin Laden's crusade.

And he thought about one in particular.

John Schroeder.

Back in 1992, when Princeton won the first of its six NCAA men's lacrosse championships, Schroeder wore No. 14 for the Tigers. He wasn't a star or even a starter, though he did play a considerable amount.

He had one goal that year, against Dartmouth in the regular-season finale. The box score from the 1992 final credits him with one ground ball. He came to Princeton from St. Anthony's on Long Island, a school that has sent the Tigers some of its greatest players in recent memory, up to the present with Tom Schreiber.

TigerBlog first started covering Princeton lacrosse in the 1990 season, when Schroeder was a sophomore. As Princeton worked its way up the lacrosse food chart to become a national champion, TB got to know players like Justin Tortolani, Scott Bacigalupo , Kevin Lowe, Torr Marro, Mike Mariano, Andy Moe and the other big-name players on the team.

It's probable that TB at some point had a conversation with Schroeder, but he has no memory of ever getting to know him.

He did get to meet Schroeder's father, who met with the Princeton players prior to the 2002 NCAA championship game - and after the game, after the Tigers had lost 13-12 to Syracuse. Schroeder's dad spoke about how proud he was of the team and how much Princeton lacrosse meant to John Schroeder.

His son wasn't there to speak for himself. He had been killed in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, another of the victims of Usama Bin Laden.

Today, Bin Laden is dead, justice having been delivered by the U.S. military.

Be proud of that accomplishment. Celebrate that this country never gave up in its search for the arch-villain and that it finally succeeded.

It's a time to rejoice.

But it's also a time to realize that while Bin Laden is dead, the threat he created will live on without him.

And it's a time to realize that before he died, he caused so much pain to so many people and that because of him, so many families today live on without being whole.

The Schroeders among them.

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