Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Day To Remember

Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium opened as the home of Princeton men's and women's soccer in 2008.

From that beginning until four days ago, there had been five 0-0 ties played at the facility. Of those, four were played by the women - one each in 2008, 2009, 2010 and last year. The only men's 0-0 tie there was also in 2008.

Then this week rolled around, and the women played a 0-0 tie Monday against Seton Hall and the men followed with a 0-0 tie against St. John's last night. These were the first consecutive 0-0 ties at Roberts Stadium ever.

Given that the Rutgers women scored with 0.1 seconds remaining against Princeton in the game prior to the back-to-back 0-0s, the scoreless streak there is now 220:00.1.

The next two games that will be played at Roberts will be televised by ESPNU, beginning Sunday at 4 against Villanova for the women and then continuing with the men's game Wednesday against Georgetown.

It'll be a great showcase for the facility, which is an incredible place to watch soccer.

Today, though, can't be about Princeton soccer. Or Princeton Athletics, for that matter.

It can't be about Ray Rice, even as the whole thing gets uglier, with a report that the NFL did in fact have a copy of the video inside the elevator, whether or not Roger Goodell has to go and with the social media post by Janay Rice, in which she rather directly ripped into those who have been critical of her husband, which begs so many more questions about her mental state, the nature of physically abusive relationships, whether or not this was a one-time moment or a chronic problem. It even goes to the issue of modern-day media and social media and the instant analysis and commentary that pops up everywhere, regardless of any qualification on the part of the commentator.

But hey, today can't be about that either.

It can't be about Oscar Pistorius, and whether or not he's about to get away with murder.

Not today.

No, today can only be about one thing.


Today is Sept. 11 - 9/11. Nothing else matters today other than remembering what happened on this day in 2001.

It was on that day that Islamic terrorists changed the world forever and brought real terror to this country. It was on that day when four commercial airplanes, filled with innocent people of all religions, were hijacked.

Two of them were flown into the World Trade Center's twin towers, killing more innocents, of all religions. Another crashed into the Pentagon, with more deaths. The fourth was heroically overtaken by the passengers and crashed into a field in Western Pennsylvania, before it could hit its target, which was either the White House or the Capitol building.

In all, 2,977 innocent people were killed that day. And the United States was changed forever.

It's been 13 years since that day. So many events have transpired, with so many more deaths since.

And yet for all that, even now, there are those out there who are plotting the next attack. Some of them are doing so rather brazenly. The world is not a safe place right now.

This country has not been immune to terrorism since that day 13 years ago, though on a much smaller scale. Is the day coming when another attack of the same magnitude - or greater - arrives here?

TigerBlog hopes not. But if it doesn't, it won't because the bad guys aren't trying. It'll be because the good guys stop them.

That's the threat that the world faces now.

But even that isn't what today is about. Today is about remembering, as painful as that is.

This wasn't a movie. This wasn't something that got wrapped up neatly. This was a day that America was beaten and beaten badly - and yet it was a day of such unimaginable courage and fortitude that that even if it was physically tattered, the spirit of America - and especially New York City - was on full display, for the entire world to see.

TigerBlog knows so many people who were in New York that morning, or arriving at Newark Airport at around the same time. He knows former Princeton athletes who were in the Twin Towers that morning - one of whom, former men's lacrosse player John Schroeder - who was among those killed.

Schroeder was a St. Anthony's product from Long Island, and he was a member of the 1992 NCAA championship team. TigerBlog didn't know him well, but he thinks of his memory every year on this day.

TigerBlog was dropping off TigerBlog Jr. at the nursery school across from the Jadwin parking lot, after taking Miss TigerBlog to her babysitter that morning. He was told by a woman who worked at the nursery school about a plane that had flown in the World Trade Center, and when he went outside and looked up, he saw the most perfect, crystal-clear blue sky he's ever seen. No way, he thought, was this any kind of accident.

Of course, it wasn't. TB remembers being here all day, with everyone crowded around the only TV around at that time, one in the training room in Caldwell Field House. He remembers looking for information anywhere it could be found.

He remembers trying to get in touch with FatherBlog, whose office is in midtown, a relatively safe distance from Ground Zero and yet not really.

He remembers going back in the afternoon to pick up his kids and seeing TBJ and a few others on a swing, unaware of the significance of that day on their world, their childhoods.

That night, TigerBlog stood on his driveway and looked up to the clear sky. He saw stars everywhere, but no airplanes. They'd all been grounded. It was so calm, and yet so uneasy and unnerving, all at once.

TigerBlog was convinced that the next attack was on its way, in much the same way that people must have felt after Pearl Harbor, that there was another attack on Hawaii or even the mainland right behind the first one.

The night before the 13th anniversary of 9/11, TigerBlog was at the men's soccer game. At one point, a faint orange light appeared in the trees beyond the field. In what seemed like no time, that light became bigger and brighter as it rose above the trees, a beautiful moon on another beautiful evening.

The moon eventually went through some hazy clouds and then eventually stood watch over the field. It was a moment of serenity, of peacefulness.

But serenity and peace these days aren't what they were before the events of 13 years ago today.

America can try to hide from that fact, hide in the new iPhone, hide in reality TV, hide in the outrage over a football player who punched out his then-fiance and how a billion dollar enterprise has tried to make it go away as smoothly as possible, hide in whatever other diversion it wants.

It can't, though. It's there. It's not going away.

Remember what happened. Remember all of those who died, many of whom lived within a 50 or so mile radius of Princeton University. Think about the children who lost parents. Think about those who ran into the burning buildings and didn't come out. Think of the ones who lost their lives years later from the toxic mess that they cleaned up.

Think about it all.

And think about the threat that is still out there.

Never forget any of what happened not far from here 13 years ago today. Never.

Maybe one day, there will be real peace in this world. Whatever peace there had been, it was shattered on this day, in 2001.

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