Recalling a not-so-special day

Sep 11, 2015 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor

While I was preparing for yet another day of battle in my little cabin in the wilderness, I heard the sound of shrieking sirens piercing the crisp, morning air.

It went on for quite some time and seemed as if every emergency vehicle in Fremont County was passing by.

Must be a big fire or something, I thought.

When I looked out a window, I was altogether filled with relief and sorrow simultaneously.

Relief when I realized what day it was.

Sorrow when I realized what day it was.

As I watched the parade of patriotic vehicles pass, I, like many Americans have done on this day for the past 14 years, immediately flashed back to the horrific scenes that unfolded on that darkest, most sinister of days.

Not exactly the days of my youth, but considering current high school freshmen were just entering the world back then is a reminder of just how long it's been.

On the first anniversary of 9/11, I was doing exactly the same thing I'm doing now -- dutifully typing away at a computer, plying my trade as a journalist. Only I was wearing a different uniform from today's attire and was in a foreign country on the other side of the world.

My wardrobe consisted primarily of green back then, when I was in the Republic of Korea as an American soldier at a place called Camp Red Cloud in a town called Uijeongbu. It was about 15 miles from the Demilitarized Zone and was a natural choke point along the main invasion route if the North Koreans ever felt frisky enough.

Comforting, indeed.

Anyway, I was working on one of my first stories as an Army journalist after having enlisted in the aftermath of the attacks and found my eyes welling up and eventually tears streaming down my cheeks, as I sat there reliving what had happened a year earlier.

No crying in the Army, I thought. I hope my sergeant doesn't see me. Well, maybe just this once.

In the following years, I visited Ground Zero on a couple different occasions.

I'll be honest. When I returned to New York for my father's funeral in 2004, I didn't shed a single tear - putting on a brave face and all that nonsense. But, when I stood staring down into that enormous hole in the ground where those majestic towers once stood, I bawled like a baby.

I had only actually laid eyes on the World Trade Center as a toddler during a mid-1970s visit the The Big Apple for my uncle's wedding.

"Look," my mom said, as we passed by Manhattan on a parkway. "There's the World Trade Center."

I strained to look out the window from the back seat of our rental car to see the twin buildings reaching up toward the sky off in the distance.

Larger than life, indeed -- especially for a 5-year-old.

Finally, my most recent trip to Gotham was when the Freedom Tower was under construction, which is now certainly a sight unto itself.

What has all this got to do with sport, you may be asking?

Absolutely nothing.

Some things -- many things -- in this life are simply far more important than the bounce of a ball.

However, I will say this.

The first sporting event to take place in New York after 9/11 was just 10 days later.

The Mets beat the Braves 3-2 on the strength of a two-run blast by Mike Piazza, which provided the winning margin.

Only a game, sure.

But, it provided a moment of healing for the city and made everyone -- even Yankee fans -- forget, if only for a few minutes.

Which is all the more reason why we must never forget.

God bless America.