CRAWFORD | Throwback Thursday: Remembering Sept. 11, 2001 - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Throwback Thursday: Remembering Sept. 11, 2001

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Today's look back doesn't go back very far. It was 13 years ago today, at about 8:45 a.m., when life changed in this country, our own airliners turned to weapons and used to fell the World Trade Centers in New York, to attack the Pentagon, and one downed in a Pennsylvania field by the heroic actions of its passengers.

The uncertainty of those days remains with me. The spontaneous coming together of the nation remains with me. I remember going to a church service that night and immediately, there was a hymn, and a patriotic song, and the fervor of unity that sprang up through that room was palpable.

The weekend after the attacks, Courier-Journal sports editor Harry Bryan sent us out on our beats to write about what we found. It was the first fall weekend any of us could remember without football. He just wanted us to look and listen, then write what we came back with.

I went to a University of Louisville football practice. The team was supposed to be playing a game at Illinois (I was in Champaign for a game just this past weekend). Instead they were on a practice field just outside Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Coach John L. Smith had wanted to play the game, but understood why they weren't playing.

It was, basically, a normal practice, except for one moment. I wrote about that moment:

For the first time since Tuesday's terrorist attacks, the Cards saw an airplane fly over Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and the practice fields. In unison, players who have become so used to planes flying in and out of nearby Louisville International Airport stopped what they were doing and looked to the sky.

The UPS aircraft flew on, and practice continued.

"It was a strange moment, but a perfectly normal reaction after all that has happened,” (U of L quarterback Dave) Ragone said. "They fly over pretty close, and you definitely look at them a little differently than you did a week ago. But then after that, we watched the plane fly off, and it was like everybody at once had the attitude of, 'OK, let's get down to business.'"

They were also back to business at Atherton High School, where I dropped in on a Highlands Youth Recreation Soccer League game. The young children had only a vague notion of what had happened. It was the parents and coaches who were trying to keep some sense of normalcy for the children.

We all have gotten back down to business, of course. I went down to Ground Zero the first time I visited New York after U of L reached the Big East Conference in 2006, and the scene still looked like chaos -- though it wasn't. As I visited over the years, it slowly began to be sorted out.

The last two times I've been, the Memorial has been nearing completion. The last visit, with John Lewis of WDRB, the Freedom Tower completed. Below, the Freedom Tower in 2013, beside a picture taken in July 2014.


Walking toward the site, I saw buildings that still bear the scars of that day. I found the name of Billy Minardi, the brother-in-law and best friend of Rick Pitino, on one of the memorials. I found the name of 1986 Trinity High School graduate Ronald Gamboa on another.

I still think the most striking feature of the whole place for me, aside from the sobering massive holes left where the towers used to be, now filled with fountains and the names of the lost, is the 9/11 Museum Building itself. If you look closely, in the center right of the picture below, it resembles a falling tower, one of many subtle design reminders in the place.


We all like sports, and in this area, are passionate about them. But we should never forget, real life can overtake them in a heartbeat. They are a part of life, but they are not life. Nobody I ran into on that day 13 years ago would've argued that. Sometimes we forget, but we shouldn't.

Nor should we forget the families who lost loved ones that day. Pain doesn't really recede, it just becomes something people learn to live with, as best they can. Even as the world gets back down to business.

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