Friday, September 11, 2015

14 Years Later

TigerBlog was talking to Jim Barlow before he left for Florida Wednesday afternoon, and he told him about his uncle, the one who used to be mayor of South Palm Beach.

You've probably never heard of South Palm Beach. It's a town about a half-mile long, with fewer than 2,000 residents, wedged in between Palm Beach, just north of Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

Based on what TigerBlog observed the one time he was there, the average age of the residents of the town is about 85 and the average height is about 5-2. Uncle Maurice? He might have been on the low side of that.

So yeah, having an uncle who was mayor wasn't exactly a major political victory.

Anyway, when MotherBlog died nearly 21 years ago, it was Uncle Maurice who wanted to give a eulogy. When he went to check out his spot before the funeral began, he told TigerBlog that he'd be needing water for when he spoke, to which TB - who can be sarcastic on his best days, so imagine him at his mother's funeral - said "who are you, Pavarotti? Get it yourself."

Barlow thought that would be a good story to tell here.

Gary Walters thought it would be good to talk about how three Princeton baseball alums find themselves in the thick of the pennant races, such as they are.

Will Venable and Ross Ohlendorf find themselves on the Texas Rangers, who are currently battling the Twins for what appears to be the final Wild Card spot. TigerBlog is rooting for a Yankee collapse, and a Wild Card game between Texas and Minnesota.

Chris Young? He's definitely headed to the postseason, as his Kansas City Royals have run away with the AL Central and might just win it all this time. Young is 10-6 while pitching mostly out of the bullpen these days. He's made one postseason appearance in his career, with the Padres, and he got a win in a game in which he pitched into the seventh without allowing a run.

So yeah, a funny story about an annoying uncle - may he rest in peace, of course - and an update on the men's soccer trip to the Florida? That's a TB natural. So is an update on the Tigers in Major League Baseball.

Not today though.

No, for today, TigerBlog has already been too far off what should be the only subject for today.

It's the 14th anniversary of when the United States of America was attacked. It's 9/11.

TigerBlog remembers every detail of that day, Sept. 11, 2001.

The day was crystal clear, and he had just dropped Miss TigerBlog off at her babysitter and TigerBlog Jr. off at preschool. As he was leaving TBJ's classroom - at the school across the street from the far side of the Jadwin parking lot - the woman who was the office manager at the school said an airplane had hit the World Trade Center.

TigerBlog's immediate reaction was to be confused. How, he wondered, could that possibly be the case?

When he walked outside, he looked up at the sky, and it was as clear and as blue as any sky he has ever seen in his life, before or since. How could a plane fly into the towers?

When he walked into Jadwin a few minutes later, he ran into John Mack, who then worked here and is now a lawyer in the Midwest. He had not heard yet of anything that was happening, and TigerBlog wasn't sure what to believe.

It was true, though. Then word came of another plane that had hit the other tower. Then the Pentagon. Then the fourth, crashing into the field in Western Pennsylvania.

There was only one TV around here back then, and it was in the training room. All day, everyone gathered around it, looking for information and answers.

It was surreal. It was unbelievable. It was a total sucker-punch to the psyche.

It seemed not real. How could this be happening, and how could it be happening 50 miles from here?

There were stories of Princeton alums, Princeton athletes, who had been in the towers. TigerBlog spoke to one, Dan Swingos, a former football captain, about his incredible tale of getting out of the second tower, just in time.

John Schroeder wasn't as fortunate. A member of the 1992 NCAA champion men's lacrosse team, Schroeder died in the World Trade Center that day.

TigerBlog remembers that night too. He stood outside, alone, at the end of his driveway and looked up. He saw stars. He didn't see airplanes. They'd all been grounded.

He wondered if his world would never be the same again. Would the attacks of that day become commonplace, and had the very fabric of life in this country changed?

Now it's 14 years later.

The attacks of that have not become commonplace, but this country was changed forever that day. Security in no way can be taken for granted. Nor is the idea that Americans are safe here because of the geographic distance and separation from those who most want to kill them.

And you know what? Americans are tired of that. They don't like it.

They want to be left alone, to enjoy their lives. They want to be left alone.

TigerBlog thinks there's a connection between the events of 9/11 and the world turmoil it caused and the rise in the mindless nature of contemporary American pop culture. Nobody wants anything serious.

They want American Idol and the Bachelor and the Kardashians. Why? To take their minds of the reality of the world. They want nothing that will require thought or anything with depth. They want simplicity.

It's also why, TB thinks, that social topics like gay marriage and now transgender issues have become such a focus. Why? Because they're issues that can be debated, talked about in depth, that don't touch on national security in any way.

People are too scared to talk about those issues. They just want them to go away.

Well guess what. They're not going to. The enemy is out there. They're plotting right now. TigerBlog and everyone else in this country who has lived in relative peace and stability the last 14 years owe a great deal of gratitude to those in law enforcement and the military who work every day to keep that peace and stability.

So that's what today is about.

It's about taking a really honest, really thoughtful look at the world today.

And it's about remembering what happened 14 years ago today, 50 miles from here. It's about remembering the 3,000 people who were killed on Sept. 11, 2001, which is 500 more than were killed on the attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Three-thousand innocent people, who just went to work that day or got on a plane that day and then had the world implode around them.

Don't ever forget them.

And don't forget the people who have died since. And the ones who continue to put themselves in danger to protect you and TB and everyone else.

They're owed a huge thank you.

September 11. It's TigerBlog's least favorite day of the year.

He'd like to be left alone from reality too. It's just that the world doesn't work that way anymore. And it hasn't, not since this day 14 years ago.

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