FORT MYERS, Fla. – On a sunny Saturday afternoon in New York City, the FGCU women’s soccer team had, for most, what is a once-in-a-lifetime experience – standing at Ground Zero on the anniversary of September 11.
The Eagles were in West Point, N.Y. for the Black Knights Classic and took their Saturday away from the pitch, heading to the city to get a glimpse of Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and the Ground Zero Museum Workshop.
At the Ground Zero Museum Workshop, the team saw photographic images, artifacts from the recovery that tell a story, items worn by recovery workers, actual tools that were used to dig around the World Trade Center site and rare video footage from inside the Ground Zero displayed on large screen and in surround sound.
“The Ground Zero Museum provided an emotional experience to the heroism and horror of the events that occurred on 9/11 and the months thereafter,” said redshirt junior midfielder Katie Donnellan.
The team interacted with the Official Photographer at Ground Zero for the Uniformed Firefighters Association (FDNY) and museum founder, Gary Marlon Suson. He explained how the museum came about and displayed a video about his experience. The players were able to touch some of the artifacts and even see a piece of one of the planes that crashed into the towers.
“What really hit home was when we went to the museum. It had amazing photographs and revealed to us how many people actually died, how many children lost a parent, and how many people risked their lives trying to help and save others,” said junior midfielder Olivia Elias. “In all, the trip to New York was an amazing experience and one that I will never forget.”
FGCU also traveled to the spot where the towers once stood and where the blue lights now shoot up into the skyline in remembrance of a day that will not be forgotten.
“Going to the spot where the twin towers once stood is a lot different in person then just seeing images on the television at home,” said Elias. “It was incredibly sad and hard to see the people around the site putting down flowers and balloons in memory of who they lost.”
Dusk settled on a New York City that no longer has ash-filled streets or tireless heroes working on recovery, but will forever have a changed skyline.
“None of us will forget seeing those blue silhouettes of the towers light up the New York City sky as the sun went down and it is a memory we will all cherish for the rest of our lives,” said junior midfielder Brianna McCall.