Remembering the words of Jack Buck on the anniversary of 9/11.
The first major sporting event after the September 11th attacks occurred in St. Louis.
With debris fields still fresh in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, a nation both mourned what had been lost and struggled with how to return to any semblance of normal. The very real concern that more attacks were imminent caused all commercial flights to be grounded and public events to be canceled in the days after the attacks.
It was determined the first major event would be a simple baseball game played in the Midwest on September 17, 2001. My sister Susan and I were fortunate to be two of the more than 40,000 gathered in the stadium.
Although the stadium was packed with fans, they weren’t simply gathered for baseball, but as a small, defiant stand against terrorism. They hoped their mere attendance in the face of another attack, maybe even that night, would show the world we’d not live in the shadow of fear.
Before the game, a veteran of World War II, an icon in the baseball world, a man who had been ravageded by advanced Parkinson’s disease, a perfect bastion of humble courage and a personal hero to me approached the microphone.
With the paper he was supposed to read crumbled in his hands prematurely due to tremors from the disease, Jack Buck looked up at a packed stadium in St. Louis and a national television audience tuning in.
With a valiant, polished, and unafraid voice, Jack began speaking:
I don’t know about you, but as for me, the question has already been answered: Should we be here? YES.
Should we show others how to demonstrate our resolve? YES.
And we shall do it here together this evening.
He then welcomed those gathered in the stadium and around the country to St. Louis. He paused to acknowledge those who lost their lives in the attacks. And he recognized the heroes- the firefighters, police officers and first responders- who fought that day to save lives.
Jack then shared a poem he wrote the day of the attacks.
Since this nation was founded under God,
More than 200 years ago,
We’ve been the bastion of freedom,
The light which keeps the free world aglow.
We do not covet the possessions of others,
We are blessed with the bounty we share.
We have rushed to help other nations,
War is just not our nature.
We won’t start, but we will end the fight.
If we are involved,
We shall be resolved,
To protect what we know is right.
We’ve been challenged by a cowardly foe,
Who strikes and then hides from our view.
With one voice, we say there’s no choice today,
There is only one thing to do.
Everyone is saying the same thing,
And praying that we end these senseless moments we are living.
As our fathers did before, we shall win this unwanted war.
As our children will enjoy the future we’ll be giving.
All who witnessed Jack Buck- frail and yet still powerful- deliver that message were deeply moved. His words reminded us of all that had been robbed from us, but also all that was expected of us going forward.
Today, on this 22nd anniversary, choose to treasure the simple moments, celebrate our shared humanity, and act with a bit more kindness, compassion, and hope in a global marketplace that still aches for it.
Choose to recognize the immeasurable value of your life – and the lives of those you encounter.
And choose to believe the little things you do matter.
Because, ultimately, our children will receive the future we’ll be giving.
This is your day. Live Inspired.