Syracuse players, coaches remember 9/11 during visit to memorial as part of trip to New York City

NEW YORK – The memories came rushing back into Jay Bromley’s mind. He recalled exactly where he was and what he felt on Sept. 11, 2001. Seeing the memorial for the victims lost on that tragic day sent those thoughts flooding back.

Bromley and the Syracuse football team visited the 9/11 Memorial Thursday as the contingent continues its tour of New York City landmarks in the days leading up to the Pinstripe Bowl. The players silently stood around the reflection pools and looked up at the building being constructed at the site where the World Trade Center was attacked. It was an emotional and poignant stop for the Orange as the team remembered the horrific events.

“It’s a beautiful setup that they have for the people here, and the families that still mourn those people,” Bromley said.

Bromley was a 10-year-old elementary school student in Queens, N.Y. when the terrorist attacks occurred. Classmates were being sent home throughout the day, but none of the students knew what was going on. Bromley said he lived around the corner from the school, so his mother came to pick him up and take him home as questions swirled around the city and fear gripped New Yorkers.

At the time, he said he couldn’t really grasp the enormity of what was taking place. As he grew older, he started to understand it more and more. Wednesday’s trip to the memorial was another reminder of that day 11 years ago.

“It doesn’t really hit you. You understand what’s going on but you don’t understand the depth of how many people are losing their lives at that age,” Bromley said. “As I got older, I understood what happened behind it. I started to feel for the people that were hurt by it, the families.”

Syracuse assistant head coach John Anselmo was the head coach of the Nassau (N.Y.) Community College football team on Sept. 11. He was teaching a class when the attacks took place, and found out about them once he returned to his office. The days that followed were harrowing as he learned of more and more people from his native Long Island who were lost.

Wednesday’s trip was his first time to the memorial. As he stared up at what was being built, he said it’s amazing how much has been done with the memorial and the space around it.

“I remember coming over here about three months after it…. and you still saw the smoke and you just said, ‘Holy cow, what’s going to happen to this?’” Anselmo said. “Now you see it everyday getting a little bit more completed.”

Anselmo said he had several players on his Nassau team who had parents who worked at the World Trade Center. They spent that day desperately trying to reach them, he said.

Syracuse center Macky MacPherson said the trip to the memorial was a special trip for the team. He said head coach Doug Marrone didn’t address the players and instead let them take the sights in on their own.

MacPherson said the only other memorial like it is the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

“It’s emotional. This is an emotional thing. I think it’s raw emotion. You can’t simulate this. You can only get this from certain places,” MacPherson said. “This is a very well put together memorial.”

Bromley said the amount of security struck him when the team first arrived at the memorial, but he said it’s a testament to how much Sept. 11 affected New York City.

While he remembers the events of Sept.11 clearly, he said Thursday that New York has come a long way since then. With the new World Trade Center building being built at the site and the memorial honoring the victims, Bromley said it proves the city’s resilience.

“It speaks to New York that we’re going to get hit hard,” Bromley said, “and we’re going to take it but we’re also going to move forward, rebound off of things and become better.”


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