December 30, 2011 — A few nights ago, I had to the opportunity to cover a visit that both teams made to the National September 11 Memorial.
It was my first trip to the sacred grounds, and I will never forget the moment I first saw the two reflecting pools, which are in the exact places that the twin towers stood.
When I first saw the size of each reflecting pool (they are each more than one square acre), it gave me greater perspective of the enormity of the tragedy.
But the site of the beautiful waterfalls, which flow into large pools, also gave me a sense of pride for everyone who lost their life on Sept. 11, 2001. The reflecting pools are not overstated, but are instead a perfect tribute to thousands of mothers, fathers, sons and daughters who didn’t come home on that our country’s worst day.
I read as many names — which are engraved on the exterior of each pool — as I possibly could during the time in between each team’s visit to the site. And when the wind came though the area, I got splashed by the water in each pool.
It was a cold night, and the water on my face didn’t make it any warmer, but in a way, the mist added the peacefulness of what is now a placid place to remember so many people.
Following Iowa State’s visit, I spoke to Cyclone running back Jeff Woody, who is from Iowa, and who was 10 years on in 2001.
From the minute our conversation began, it was obvious that Woody had a special sense of compassion for the victims of a tragedy that took place at a time when he was too young to fully grasp it.
“To look at a structures in New York City that appear to be as stable as can be, and to think that there were 3,000 people who can’t go home to see their families is a reminder of the greatness and the depths of humanity all in one,” Woody said. “At times like this, I really don’t think about football. This is a grave site for 3,000 people, and I can’t even put that into words to give you an idea of what I am feeling right now.”
“We got our schedule for this week after our game against Kansas State,” Woody continued. “This was the thing I was looking forward to the most, not because of excitement but because of respect. I circled this night on the calendar.”
–Alfred Santasiere III