I was eleven years old when the world was caught off guard, as I—along with millions of people—watched the destruction of the World Trade Center.
My mom in tears, my dad shocked, my family in disarray .
I remember coming home from school on that day, as we were sent home early due to what we saw. September 12th, 2001 was the longest and slowest day of my life and it was one of the saddest.
As Thursday came around I was hoping to see SmackDown and for the first time my mom sat there with me as we saw Vince McMahon open the show in the Compaq Center in Houston, Texas.
When Vince said "We will not live you lives in fear," I could see my mom start to cry as she had for the first time really watched and listened as he spoke upon how this was the first assembly of this size since the tragedy of Tuesday.
“The citizens of Houston are not afraid, the citizens of Texas are indeed not afraid and by God, the citizens of the United States are not afraid,” Vince McMahon spoke those words and my mom said “Oh Hell Yea, you tell them Vince”. I saw my mom as a patriot like I saw Vince McMahon a patriot and I got the goosebumps and started to feel that I didn’t have to be afraid of what I watched on TV on that dark day.
When he said “proud of who we are, proud of our nation and damn proud to be Americans,” I finally grasped the situation and the tears flowed down my face.
Vince said “America’s heart has been wounded, but her spirit shines as a beacon of freedom that never has been and never will be taken away.” Lillian Garcia sang the national anthem. My mom told me to stand as I listened to the words for the first time and clearly knew why my mother cried. I was so proud of the country and that we are a strong nation and it made me proud to be a citizen of the United States of America.
The September 13, 2001 edition of SmackDown was bigger than wrestling and it showed with the words were spoken and the crowd cheering “USA USA”. It showed that even something that is what wrestling was made out to be could be so real at that moment in time as the fans stood on there feet as we saw something real that night and I realize something that night.
Wrestling could do what others were afraid to do at that time and take that risk to provide us with a smile that was needed at a time of sorrow. I smiled big, chanting USA with my mom and we watched the whole show not changing the channel.
For those two hours we lived with a smile on our face.
Two years later, Vince decided to show his appreciation by taking some of the guys in the company and giving the troops one hell of a show.
When he spoke to the troops, I was sitting in the same spot I did when I watch the 9/13/01 edition of SmackDown.
He said “The secret weapon of the fighting men and woman, the secret weapon is the American spirit that lives in side of each and every one of you.” That quote from that speech touched my heart because it was so true because all that was needed was to believe.
He talked about the media and how they portrayed the fighting men and women. He had a message for those naysayers that have put those men and woman down and uttered one his greatest lines ever: “If it’s alright with you, when I get back home I am going to look up some of these naysayers and I am going to say that you said they can go straight to hell.”
The WWE has done something no other sport will do and that is put on a show for those troops. That they can go into the heat of it all and entertain those troops and put a smile on their faces.
Tribute to the Troops has become a WWE tradition and I think they plan to do it until we bring our troops back home.
We have showed strength as a nation since 9/11, we have shown that on the night in September in 2001 was something that was unique and never be forgotten because of who we are and what we stand for.
When I watch Tribute To The Troops, I start to tear up because of the fallen soldiers that are talked about and the people that are away from their families. It hits me hard because the love I have for my family and how these heroes fight for our freedom and are away from their families. Those wrestlers that go every year leave their families and risk their lives to show their support to those who need it.
It has been nine years since that sad and dark day in history. As I watch the WWE every Memorial Day, Veteran's Day or when they pay Tribute to the Troops it shows what they have built since that night in the Compaq Center in Houston, Texas.
I am proud to be an American and this article is to pay tribute to our country and the troops that have left us but will never be forgotten.
SmackDown opening of 9/13/01: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFU0kehteWE