College Football Honors First Responders, Victims of 9/11 Terrorist Attacks

By Madeline Coleman

Saturday marked 20 years since a series of coordinated terrorist attacks hit the United States as four commercial planes were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists. But as today's generation of college football players take the field, many of the players are too young to have memories of the day.

"It was our generation's Pearl Harbor," Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck said in a College GameDay interview. "A lot of these guys weren't even born. Some of them were one, some of them were two or three years old. I think it's our job as educators and teachers to make sure that they feel like they did live in that moment." 

American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City at 8:46 a.m. Seventeen minutes later, United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower. Both Towers eventually collapsed.

The third flight, American Airlines Flight 77, crashed into the side of the Pentagon, causing a partial collapse. United Airlines Flight 93, the final airplane, never reached its intended target, which was believed to be in Washington D.C., as the passengers regained control of the aircraft. They crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania just after 10 a.m. ET. 

Out of the nearly 3,000 people who died, 2,753 people were killed at the World Trade Center attacks, including hundreds of first responders. 

The attacks hit close to home for many programs, like Rutgers, who lost 37 alumni that day. Penn State head coach James Franklin told ESPN that he was working at Maryland at the time of the attacks, and several of their players' family members worked in the Pentagon. 

Some schools honored the lives physically on Saturday, like Notre Dame, whose players 20 push-ups for the 20th anniversary. Others chose to commemorate the day with their uniforms. Air Force debuted their B-52-inspired uniforms against Navy, which includes a camouflage paint job, patches and plane silhouette on the pants

Penn State chose to to name the Dwyer family honorary captains in honor of Patrick, a former Penn State football player "who was at work on the 105th floor of World Trade Center’s North Tower when the first airplane crashed," student Pasquale Tartaro wrote.

September 11, 2001—never forget. 

Here's how other programs honored those who died during the devastating terrorist attacks 20 years ago. 

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