Saturday, September 11, 2010


In 2001, I was a sophomore in junior college.  One of the best parts about my two years in junior college was that two of my best friends were my roommates -- Brad my freshman year and Brian my sophomore year.  One of the perks about having a life-long friend as your college roommate is that he is morally obligated to get you a birthday present.  While I have no recollection of what Brad got me as a gift in 2000 (probably booze), I will never forget the gift I received from Brian.

Brian's grandmother (my great-aunt) and grandfather were Denver Bronco season ticket holders for as long as I can remember.  I remember, when I was in elementary school, going with my dad, Brian, and Brian's dad to a Bronco game at Mile High Stadium.  I have no memory of the game itself, just that the four of us went.  Traveling to the big city of Denver was a rare occasion in my youth, and attending a Bronco game was even rarer. 

So, imagine my surprise when Brian told me that he, along with my great aunt and another cousin, would be taking me to the Denver Broncos' season opener for that season.  Not only that, but this game would be the first game played in the new Mile High at Invesco Field.  And, to top it all off, this game would be the first Monday Night game of the NFL season.  What a great present.

My memories of that night include:
  • The atmosphere at the stadium was electric.  People were excited to get inside and see the new field.  At the gate, we received a commemorative ticket lanyard and bought a commemorative Game Day program (both of which I still have, boxed up somewhere in my garage).  On the way through the stadium corridor we saw one of the Bronco cheerleaders talking to fans and signing autographs.  So, of course we ran over and got our tickets signed.  
  • The stadium was beautiful and the seats were amazing.  We were on the north 40 yard line on the visitor's side of the field, about 15 rows up.  Outstanding seats. (Incidentally, years later my wife would get us tickets to the game through her work which were in the first row, and while being that close is pretty cool, it's actually not the best place to watch the game.  You really need to be a bit higher to see the action on the field well.)  
  • I remember that the Broncos were playing the NY Giants.  I couldn't tell you what the final score was (I'm pretty sure the Giants won), and the only part of the game I still remember was the play when Eddie McCaffrey broke his leg.  As I remember, it was a brutal hit and when Eddie didn't immediately pop up after the tackle and the stadium crew didn't replay the play on any of the screens in the stadium, I knew something bad had happened.  I didn't actually see the play happen until a few years later when I looked it up on YouTube.
Not a ton of memories, but I know I had a great time. It was a night game, and Brian and I had class early the next day, so we didn't have the option of staying the night in Denver.  Since our drive home was so late at night, the four of us spent the more than 3-hour drive home talking.  I have no idea how the topic was brought up, but one of us asked my great aunt about Pearl Harbor (I imagine we were talking about movies and since the movie "Pearl Harbor" was released earlier in 2001, we asked her about it).  I don't remember what she told us about it, just that we spoke about the topic for a little while. 

I doubt that I'd have remembered half of this information as well as I do, but the next day, September 11, was (and always will be) my birthday.  Brian and I followed our usual morning routine, with Brian awaking before me and showering, and once he was out of the shower, I showered.  Brian would always turn on the television and watch the news as he got dressed and I can distinctly remember him telling me to come watch the television.  This is what we saw:

As I sat down onto the bed and we watched the coverage about a plane that had crashed into the World Trade Center building, we witnessed the second plane fly into the second building live. 

My memory of the rest of my birthday that day is fuzzy.  I believe Brian and I went to a high school volleyball game to watch our sisters play and then had dinner with my parents at a Mexican restaurant.  I'm pretty sure my parents gave me a television for us to use in our dorm room as a present.  But other than those two facts, what would normally have been a happy occasion for me, instead became anything but happy.

So, each year, on September 10th, I fall asleep replaying that 24 hours over in my head, wondering why, of all the topics we could had talked about that night, we happened to talk about one attack on America just hours before another attack would occur.  I know the two are unrelated, but my mind still wanders back to that night's events.  Tomorrow morning, as America morns the horrible tragedy of that day, I will be celebrating the passing of another year of my life.

No comments:

Post a Comment