Last week was the 19th anniversary of 9/11, and every year the memories of the terrorist attacks on the United States tear me apart inside.
Each year we take time to go to what is now the Abbott office building in Pleasanton and pay tribute to Tom Burnett, who was among the passengers that overtook the terrorists on United flight 93, forcing the plane down in the Pennsylvania country side, stopping them from going after the U.S. Capitol building.
Burnett was the COO of Thoratec, the company that occupied the building on what is now Tom Burnett Drive.
I take time each Sept. 11 to think back to that day in 2001 and how our world came to a halt.
My wife and I had all seven kids at home still, ranging from high school to elementary school. We had yet to wake them up when the Towers were hit, and we didn't know what to do or how to talk with the kids regarding the attack. I called my buddy Kevin Johnson, who was the principal at Foothill, and asked if there was going to be school.
After being assured that school would take place, we talked about it and decided that it would be in the best interests of our kids to go to school, be around their friends and try to keep life as close to normal as possible.
We live up by Foothill and Lydiksen, with the incoming flight pattern to the Oakland Airport going over our neighborhood. After we got the boys off to Foothill, we decided to walk the rest of our kids up to Lydiksen.
It was eerie not to see or hear a single airplane in the sky. It was quiet -- too quiet.
At the time I was the local sports editor for the Tri-Valley Herald. Once I got into the office that Tuesday, we went to work trying to figure out what would happen in the sports world.
As Friday approached, a decision on whether to play their scheduled football games loomed for the local high schools. I was torn myself, but ultimately, I came to the belief that the games needed to be played as they would provide at least some sense of normalcy.
On the flip side, I had respect for the schools that decided not to play on that Friday night. There was no right answer in this uncharted territory, just feelings. You did what felt right in your heart when it came to the students.
Monte Vista opted to play on Friday, and I went to cover the game. Once I got to the game, it was a cathartic experience. People were genuinely happy to be around other people. You could see the hurt in their eyes, but you could also see the hope.
Then it was time for the national anthem to be performed.
I have been at thousands of sporting events in my life and I have never seen a more emotional moment. Every person was singing -- every person -- and it was loud. I also don't think there was a dry eye in the house.
From there it did not matter who was playing or what the outcome was, it was important that there was a game being played and for a few hours, find some bit of an escape. I still remember the buzz I got from the energy level at the game, and it was something that carried me through the upcoming weeks.
It was sobering this year, reflecting on how the United States rallied as a country. There were no Republicans or Democrats; there was just Americans. It gave me cause for pause as I thought about how fractured our country is right now, with no end in sight.
Sept. 11, 2001 is a date that should always be remembered. As the next generations come through, they need to be reminded about the tragedy of what has become known simply as 9/11.
Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact him about his "Pleasanton Preps" column, email [email protected]