The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday September 18th

Silent Field Becomes Memorial

A bright sun shone down, warming the bright metal bleachers directly below.

The unscathed, painted field lay calmly and ready for battle below mostly clear skies.

Perfect 68 degree weather for pigskin -- on any other Saturday afternoon of the year.

Periodic breezes swept through an empty Kenan Stadium, but no flags were hanging to blow. Instead, cords whipped in the wind against their bare poles.

Across the nation, red, white and blue flags flew proudly on nearly every street corner as memorials for lives lost and as symbols of a country's ideals.

At about kickoff time, two children's whistles echoed through the stands, and four maintenance workers returned the call from across the other sideline, but the scoreboard remained blank.

"When's the game start?" kidded a man, who had traveled from Pennsylvania with his wife and son, as he walked through a tunnel into the stadium and lit his cigar. North Carolina would have been on that field, facing off against Southern Methodist.

An airplane soared above the stadium and by the blinding sun. The white trail in its wake never left such a mark before.

The chalky line the plane drew complimented the scattered, thin clouds that hovered like smudges on the blue sky.

Lower, heavier clouds of smoke and dust still lingered over Lower Manhattan from Tuesday's tragedies.

Commercial planes metamorphosed into missiles exploded upon collisions with both of the World Trade Center towers. Their collapses left nothing but smoke in the physical spaces they once occupied on the skyline, but the ripples of the impacts will remain for the ages.

Thousands were lost -- passengers, flight attendants, pilots, secretaries, bosses, elevator operators, janitors, security personnel, tourists, firefighters, police officers, moms, dads, sons, daughters, husbands, wives.

Screams and shrieks cut through the silence of gaping mouths but were overpowered by the crashing on the southern tip of the island.

The fear and disbelief that followed were soon replaced by resiliency and camaraderie.

Beyond the field house at the east end zone, sirens rang out, growing louder as they inched closer and then past the stadium.

The workers sprayed water hoses on the bleachers, washing away debris.

In the upper level, one turned on a pressurized hose. The contraption's loud hum reverberated around the peaceful setting, making it sound like a construction site.

Around the clock, firefighters and volunteers sifted through the rubble their country was left. Looking for hope. Looking for answers.

Helmeted warriors of the human spirit painted with dirt, sweat and blood strive to conquer a massive heap of ruin.

In Farmingdale, N.Y., Mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York City helped lay to rest his city's fire department chief, Peter Ganci.

Countless tears have been shed. They will continue drowning the heart of humanity.

After the game that never was, Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Tuesday's Gone" played as a tribute on the radio.

The week's terror had passed but won't soon be forgotten, as America tries to climb out of the ashes with strength. Picking up the pieces and moving on is all most can do.

Tuesday might be gone with the wind. But the memories can't be blown away.

Saturday, Kenan Stadium sat motionless as a moment of silence in Tuesday's memory.

 

Mike Ogle can be reached at mogle@email.unc.edu.

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.



Comments

Welcome Back Edition 2021

Special Print Edition

Games & Horoscopes

Print Edition Games Archive