Saturday, September 21, 2013

Looking Back Twelve Years II

I posted some memories of 9/11 from the Academy last week for 12th Anniversary, today I get to post the flip side of my experience with something a little more uplifting.

The Color Guard at the Academy will typically present the flag at events throughout the NY Metropolitan Area, sometimes at sporting events. In the wake of 9/11 no one was sure when professional sports would be ready to play in the city. Sure the stadiums were unaffected, the Mets and Yankees both being fresh off their appearance in the Subway World Series the year before were in the hunt in their respective leagues for a return the playoffs. The Yankees being at the tail end of their most productive years with their core group of legendary players, would end up playing in the World Series and losing to the Diamondbacks, but that's a story for another day I suppose.

Schedule wise the Mets and Yankees were both on the road at the time, with the Mets due to return to NYC first, their first games after the attacks were in Pittsburgh, the next home stand would pit them against division rivals the hated Atlanta Braves.

The Academy Color Guard was invited to participate in the opening ceremonies with first responders from ground zero. Volunteers were requested, and as a Mets fan and someone struggling to be of use in some capacity, I signed up and was chosen to participate. We practiced a few times, but once the crowd started chanting U-S-A as we walked out onto the field, the bag pipes that were playing and any commands from the Color Guard were completely drowned out, it was amazing.

We stayed for the game, and got to witness Mike Piazza's amazing game winning home run, I will never forget the outpouring of emotion from the crowd. The atmosphere was electric, and who knows if I'll ever experience anything like again (hopefully not, if it means another catastrophic event).

We Mets fans rooted our rag tag team on to the end of the season, but they fell short, and so began a dark time for the Mets that continues, with brief flickers of light in 2005 and 2006. But that one moment, I'll never forget. I remember reading about Mike Piazza when he first came up with the Dodgers in Boy's Life Magazine, I was thrilled when he came to the Mets, and this at least for me is his quintessential moment with the franchise. Forever linked with a moment when some of us were finally able to take a breath and start looking forward again after such a traumatic experience. It's so silly, but I get a little misty eyed, and goosebumps, whenever I watch this moment, as if I am taken back to that night and relive the wonder all over again.

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