Sept. 11, 2001, is a day that marks the event of 2,749 death certificates, the death of 23 NYC Police Officers, the loss of 343 firefighters and the destruction of 1,337 vehicles, according to wtc911.us. “It was a tragic event that happened while innocent lives were lost and an event I wish would have never happened,” Lawrence Kershaw, the offensive coordinator for Florida A&M’s football team, said. Kershaw, a Brooklyn native, was fortunate not to have had any losses but still is touched from the event.
“I didn’t lose anybody that I knew in that event, but it has sentimental value to me because it is my hometown,” Kershaw said. “I felt a sense of hurt because it happened in our country.” Kershaw said football provides a means of relief to those who are grieving.
“From a coaching standpoint, it brought the country more together on that day,” Kershaw said. “The singing of the national anthem at the beginning of every game has more of a meaning, and the game provides an outlet for entertainment to get our minds off of that event.”
The NYS Office of Mental Health estimates more than 33,000 people showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Brandon Hepburn, a 21-year-old biochemistry student from Brooklyn, said the effects of Sept. 11 still haunt him. “It was kind of surreal at the time, but I saw the aftermath of it,” Hepburn said. “A lot of emotions came over me, like anger (and) depression. It was hard for me as a kid to see the way it affected my friends that lost loved ones.” Hepburn, a redshirt junior, said Sept. 11 is a day that represents the best of Americans. “Although we have our differences, when push comes to shove, we all uphold the same flag,” Hepburn said. “We have different ethnicities and people come from different creeds and cultures, but on that day we all came together to help our brothers and sisters in need.”
At the time of the event, Hepburn was in middle school and active on a Pop Warner Football team, which had a firefighter as a head coach. “The man who coached us was a firefighter. He didn’t get hurt, but it was scary to know that our head coach was there helping out at that time,” Hepburn said.
Hepburn said he was one of the fortunate ones at the time of the event and overall, it brought the nation together. “We can understand how important our freedoms really are,” Hepburn said. “It made us band together because we knew the importance of friendship and how love can be the greatest pain medicine.”