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Column: 9-11 Still Important To Remember

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Column: 9-11 Still Important To Remember

Flag raised at the site of the attacks by rugby-playing firefighters.

In my experience, young people don't like to hear much about how good they have it, or how things were different back in the day, or how they just don't understand something; but sometimes you end up saying some of those things anyway.

A very large percentage of the readership of this site is too young to remember September 11, 2001. They (you) have grown up without that scar across the historical timeline; all they know is afterward. But when it happened, when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers, and crashed into the Pentagon, and crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, it was a tragedy that was difficult to fathom, it was a complete change in how we do things and live our lives.

It remains jarring to watch an older TV show or movie and see the Twin Towers lording over New York City. Every time I see them, and I'm not even a New Yorker, it's a sobering reminder of why they aren't there anymore.

So what happened was that a group of terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes. They chose flights going across the country so that they would be full of fuel. They killed the flight crews (this was back when planes often flew with the cockpit door open so people could see what was going on), and having had some of the terrorists take flight training, aimed the planes at four specific targets: the Twin Towers in New York City, the White House, and the US Capitol. The planes attacking the World Trade Center slammed right into those towers about two-thirds of the way up. The plane looking for the White House couldn't find it, and crashed into the Pentagon instead. The plane going for the Capitol was taken down before it could cause damage thanks to a counter-attack from the passengers.

Rugby players were in the middle of all of this. Rugby players were going to work at the WTC. Many New York-based rugby players worked in the financial sector, and they were killed. Rugby players from all over the world were in New York and at the WTC to do business. They were killed. Rugby players formed a large percentage of police and firefighters who responded to the emergency, especially from Rockaway, NY. Some were killed, all waded into the disaster to help others.

Two rugby players were on United Flight 93 and formed part of the passenger counter-attack that crashed the plane. They knew they would crash the plane—there was no alternative—but they did it to save lives. Along with Jeremy Glick, Mark Bingham was a key part of that effort. The towering, inspirational former Cal player who had helped found the San Francisco Fog and a growing movement for gay rugby players, Bingham's name adorns the gay rugby world championship, and he is a symbol of how rugby celebrates its heroes, not its labels.

All of these lives, whether those lives ended that day or not, were changed in an instant on a day no one expected anything momentous. The rugby community stepped up that day, and in days and months following, from efforts to protect this country through the military and first responders to efforts to bring us all together. Let's hope, that even if this is just history to you, and not a memory, we can use this as inspiration to step again.  

List of Rugby Players Who Died In the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks
Andrew Alameno - Mount St. Mary's RFC Md. - World Trade Center
Mark Bingham - University of California, SF Fog RFC, Calif. - United Flight 93
Edward "Ted" Brennan III - Holy Cross RFC, New York – World Trade Center
Matt Burke - Xavier High School Rugby Club, New York — World Trade Center
Michael Cawley – SUNY Oswego, New York – World Trade Center
Jason Coffey — Bryant University, RI — World Trade Center
Joe Dickey - Wisconsin Rugby Club, Wisc. - World Trade Center.
Bill Erwin – SUNY Plattsburgh, Saranac Lake RFC, New York – World Trade Center
Tom Foley - Old Blue RFC, New York - Firefighter FDNY - World Trade Center.
Linda George - Providence College Rugby Club, RI - American Flight 11
Jeremy Glick - Former Capt. Univ. Of Rochester RFC, New York - United flight 93 
James Greenleaf Jr. - Connecticut College RFC, Conn. - World Trade Center.
Charlie Heeran - Xavier High School Rugby Club, New York - World Trade Center.
Tommy Knox - North Jersey RFC, New Jersey - World Trade Center 
Ming-Hao Liu - Cheng-Kung Univ. RFC, Taiwan - World Trade Center.
Mark Ludvigsen - New York Athletic Club RFC, New York - World Trade Center
Sean Lugano - New York Athletic Club RFC, New York - World Trade Center.
Joseph McDonald - SUNY Albany RFC and Monmouth RFC, New Jersey - World Trade Center.
Christopher Mello - Princeton Univ. RFC, New York - American Flight 11
Mike McCarthy - Lansdowne RFC, New York - World Trade Center.
Terry McShane - Long Island RFC, New York - Firefighter FDNY - World Trade Center.
Rob Peraza - St. Bonaventure Univ. RFC, New York - World Trade Center.
Tim Reilly - White Plains RFC, New York - World Trade Center.
Nick Rowe - Manhattan RFC, New York - World Trade Center.
Mike Stewart - Old Blue RFC, New York - World Trade Center.
Mike Taddonio - Siena College, New York - World Trade Center.
Patrick Waters - Brockport State Doggies RFC, New York - Captain, FDNY - World Trade center.
Brent Woodall - New York Athletic Club RFC, New York - World Trade Center.


If we have neglected to list someone who should be in this tribute, please let us know. This list, once widely published, was actually enormously difficult to find now and it's possible we have missed someone. Email us here to let us know if we missed someone>>