Monday, September 12, 2016

Fifteen Years Later

TigerBlog was standing directly behind the Myslik Field goal Friday night as Tyler Lussi sliced between a pair of Temple defenders and redirected a bouncing ball into the back of the net.

It was a goal-scorers goal if ever there was one. It's the kind of goal that a player like Lussi can score when 99% of the players who have ever played soccer cannot.

It was a great weekend for the Princeton women. They came home and beat Temple 3-0 Friday, as Lussi scored twice, making her only the fifth player in the history of Ivy League women's soccer to reach the 50-goal mark for a career.

Her second goal, by the way, gave her 113 points for her career, giving her the two biggest records in Princeton soccer history - career goals (now 50) and career points (now 115 after two assists yesterday against Monmouth).

Princeton won yesterday too, defeating Monmouth 2-1 on sophomore Mimi Asom's goal with two minutes to go in the second OT. Asom, like Lussi, is a natural born scorer, and her game-winner saw her stop, change feet and rip it home for the win.

For Asom, the game-winner gave her 15 for her career, leaving two questions: 1) can Lussi make a run at 68 goals, which is the Ivy record, and 2) can Asom make a run at whatever number Lussi finishes with?

Next up, Princeton, with a perfect 6-0-0 record, heads to Morgantown to take on West Virginia, ranked fourth nationally in a game Friday night. This should be a great one.

Women's soccer wasn't the only big winner this weekend. The field hockey team, for instance, won a pair of games at home against ranked teams, taking out No. 12 Albany 3-2 and No. 10 Delaware 4-2.

There were others. The men's water polo team, for instance, played four straight ranked opponents and went 2-2, and even an 18-9 loss to No. 1 UCLA came on a day when ESPNU televised again from DeNunzio Pool and showcased the Tiger program and campus.

Just as he did last Friday, though, TigerBlog doesn't want to dwell on Princeton Athletics today per se.

Last Friday, he wanted to write instead about the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert. You can read it HERE if you haven't already.

Today, he wants to write about something different. Something important.

The 15th anniversary of 9/11. 

With the exception of 2010, when 9/11 fell on a Saturday, TigerBlog has written about the events of that awful day every September 11 since 2009. This year, 9/11 fell on a Sunday, yesterday, and now today is 9/12.

And that's what TB wants to write about.

TigerBlog can remember every detail of Sept. 11, 2001.

Miss TigerBlog was still at daycare at a babysitter on Route 27, a little north of town. TigerBlog Jr. was in nursery school, at the U-League Nursery School, across the parking lot from Jadwin Gym.

TigerBlog's routine was to head up to the babysitter and drop off MTB and then come back to campus, taking TBJ to his first school. That Tuesday in 2001 was the most crystal clear perfect sunny morning ever.

When TB was leaving the nursery school, the woman administrator there remarked that she had just heard that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. How, TB wondered, could that be possible?

He assumed it was a small plane that got lost or disoriented, but how was this possible on such a clear day?

By the time he got to Jadwin, he'd started to figure it out. It seemed impossible. A commercial plane had flown into the World Trade Center?

The first person he saw in the building was John Mack, who hadn't yet heard the news. Back then, the only TV around was in Caldwell Field House, and for the rest of the day, everyone basically crowded in there to see the news.

Princeton was supposed to play Lafayette in football that coming weekend, and the football game program was due to the printer. At that moment, there had been no conversation about cancelling the game, and so the program had to be finished, even if nobody's heart was in it.

TB's two most vivid memories of 9/11 are these. First, it was when he went back to pick up the kids. They were innocents, playing on swings and running around outside, oblivious to the fact that their world had forever changed.

Even more so, though, TB remembers walking outside, down to the end of the driveway, somewhere long after dark. He stood there, alone, in total silence, and looked up at the night sky. He saw stars, lots of them, but no airplanes. They'd all been grounded.

As he looked up, he was struck by the total serenity and peacefulness of the moment - and the utter uncertainty of what was going to come next. It had to be like the night of Dec. 7, 1941, wondering if there was another wave of an attack imminent, wondering what would come next.

TB has never in his life had a moment like that at any other time, under any other circumstance.

Then there was the next day. In contrast to the events of 9/11, TB has very little memory of exactly what happened on 9/12 of that year.

He knows he went to work, because he knows there was a football media luncheon. Roger Hughes was the Princeton coach back then, and he and two players spoke about how the day had unfolded for them, including an attempt to get word from the many Princeton football players who worked at or near Ground Zero.

TigerBlog also caught up on the phone with former captain Dan Swingos, who was in the second tower when the planes hit. His story was harrowing.

There was also the news that John Schroeder, a member of the 1992 NCAA champion men's lacrosse team, was one of the 3,000 who was killed that day.

Other than that, TB doesn't remember much about that day.

Was he scared? Angry? Confused? Probably all of those.
The entire country was. More than any time of TB's life, the time following 9/11 was the most unifying moment this country has had.

Now, it's 15 years later. You don't need TigerBlog to tell you how splintered the country is, and you also don't need him to tell you that it doesn't look like it's going to get any more unified in the near future.

Maybe that's because the one major attack on this country hasn't happened again, not to the scale of 9/11. That is a testament, by the way, to thousands of military and law enforcement personnel, from both political parties and from all kinds of religions and backgrounds.

Most people, like you and TigerBlog, have no idea how close this country came to having another 9/11, only to have it stopped in time.

They are owed a lot, by everyone.

As TigerBlog writes this, as he does every year, he goes back to that moment at the end of the driveway, that incredibly emotional moment when he looked up at the nighttime sky.

He looked up and saw a new world, or at least that the one he had known was forever changed. Would it ever change back? In five years? Ten?

Now it's been 15 years. Living under the constant threat of terrorism has become normal. Life has gone on. People have gone on with their lives. TBJ and MTB are no longer little kids, or kids at all, for that matter.

So 15 years later, here's remembering John Schroeder. And Eamon McEneaney, one of the greatest lacrosse players ever, who was part of Cornell's legendary teams in the 1970s, who also was killed that day.

And remembering everyone who died that day.

And marveling again at the first responders and their astonishing bravery.

And the country today? Yes. It's splintered, as much as it has ever been in TB's lifetime.

It's TigerBlog's fervent prayer that if it ever turns back around to one of unity, it's not because of another massive terrorist attack.

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