COMMERCE CITY CO (Exclusive to ColoradoRapids.com)- Six years to the day after the horribly tragic events of 9/11 ColoradoRapids.com gave Rapids defender Mike Petke the chance to write an article of remembrance on the anniversary of that fateful day.
Petke who grew up in New York was playing with the MetroStars at the time and had reported for training with his teammates the morning of Sept. 11 2001.
Here below is Petke's exclusive memoir in honor of the anniversary of 9/11.
Sept. 11 2001 started for me as just another typical weekday morning. Up at 7am breakfast shower and out the door at 7:30. Drop my fiancé off at the Lincoln Tunnel to catch the bus to work in NYC then off to practice with the MetroStars.
Smooth as always down the 1&9 against the flow of gridlock heading into the Big Apple. Past Newark Airport and into Union New Jersey ready to hit the field.
Just another typical weekday morning. But as I would soon find out what the entire world would soon realize was that September 11 2001 was anything but typical. It was a day of chaos fear and confusion.
Most of all it was a day that would change our lives forever.
Six years later as I recall that tragic day my emotions and tears flow as if it happened this morning. I can still smell the odor of the locker room as we were informed that a plane had hit one of the twin towers. As we walked out to practice I remember the shock in all of our eyes wondering what happened only much later realizing that we were not ready for that realization. Then being called back to the locker room fifteen minutes later to discover the horror that not only had a second plane struck the other tower but they had both collapsed. Before even being told we all knew this was no coincidence.
My whole world stood still as I tried to comprehend what I was just told. Then it went into fast motion as I frantically tried to contact Kim the woman who I would marry a month later who along with her father worked in NYC. She worked in midtown across from Grand Central Station so I was confident she would be fine due to her distance from the attacks.
Her father on the other hand worked in an office a stone's throw from the towers. As the busy signal rang in my ear for the hundredth time in an hour it hit me that millions of people were making that same call at that exact time. Only days later when the casualties were amassing could I understand how many people never got through and never would. In fact it would be over five hours before I would hear her voice and another five before she would make it back to New Jersey.
Leaving practice was another harsh reality of what happened. With F-16’s flying overhead all roads heading North to the city were closed with armed officers at entrance ramps. I remember thinking that this doesn’t happen in America....you only hear about this on the news in other parts of the world far away from here.
I headed to a close friend's house who lived south of the city all the while still trying to reach Kim. Upon arriving at his house we poured a stiff drink to calm our nerves and sat on the couch watching CNN the entire afternoon still trying to understand what had happened. It was 10pm before Kim made it out of the city and to my buddy's house. We spent a sleepless night before returning home early the next morning.
We lived just outside Hoboken NJ on the Hudson River. We had a beautiful view of New York City and the Twin Towers from the end of our block. However the view that we returned home to was something that I cannot describe in words. I had spent the previous day watching the same image on TV but it was entirely different to see it right in front of your eyes still burning with the trail of smoke blowing in the wind as far as you could see.
We just sat there and cried until it became too overwhelming to take. Being born and raised in Long Island NY the Twin Towers were to New Yorkers what New York City was to the world: the biggest and brightest thing you can imagine.
Later that day I returned with my video camera to capture the devastation. I’ve watched that tape once in six years but plan on showing it to my children when they are old enough. I’m sure they will be studying that day as I studied Pearl Harbor as a high school student.
As the years have passed since that day the old saying holds true…"Gone But Not Forgotten". To many of us the memories run deep but I’ve also realized that it’s the little things that make you realize that as well. I have always been "Proud to be an American". Nowadays I find it difficult to fight back the tears whenever that day is mentioned. Prior to our games during the playing of the National Anthem the game becomes secondary as I listen to those great words and think about what they stand for.
Gone but not forgotten. That’s what September 11 2001 will always be to me.
Rapids defender #12
Sept. 11 2007