Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks waged against the United States by radical Islam. Each passing year, the nation soberly reflects on the tragedies which occurred that fateful day.
U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) recalls the events that took place on September 11, 2001, when he was the head football coach at Auburn University.
The senator says his team canceled its game and reflected on the tragedy that had just taken place.
“We had a lot of heroes that day, we lost a lot of great Americans,” says Tuberville. You just never can believe that our country, as strong as we are, can be attacked on our own soil, but it was. We canceled our games that week and every moment of every day you just thought about those two towers.”
Tuberville notes the size of the aircraft his team boarded, which was the same size plane that struck the Twin Towers.
He continues, “The next week after that game had been canceled, the Auburn football team boarded a 767 on a Friday, I guess about 11 days later. The 767 was a huge airplane, you never really looked at it as a plane that size that carried that many people. That was the same size airplane that hit the world trade center.”
He touches on the experience of having two F-16 fighter jets flown adjacent to each wing of the team’s aircraft as it flew into New York.
“As we took off, we were the first commercial airliner to fly into New York,” adds Tuberville. “We were playing Syracuse University. I can remember flying in the distance after a couple hours seeing the city of New York, which had been under attack. As we got close to New York we had two F-16s, one on each wing flying next to us. Of course, that was some experience to go through.”
Tuberville notes being overtaken with somber emotion while each team gathered on the field in solidarity as they received a moving message from then-Gov. George Pataki (R-NY).
“We played the game. It was an emotional experience,” he says. “The governor was there and gave a great talk to the entire crowd, both teams were on the field. It was an emotional moment. I can remember like it was yesterday. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since that horrific act.”
Alabama’s freshman senator holds an optimistic outlook of the nation’s future so long as its people are unified.
“This country is strong,” proclaims Tuberville. “It showed that it can withstand anything. We go through some tough times, but we’ve held on, we’ve fought back and this country is stronger now than it was then,” he said. “We’ll make some mistakes and we’ll have problems. But with God on our side and with American people standing close as a team – and that’s exactly what we are, we’re a team – because the rest of the world would love to be the United States of America.”
Tuberville concludes, “As long as we stay strong, we’ll survive. And we’ll be around for a long time for many generations to enjoy the greatest country on the face of the earth. God Bless.”
Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL