Sunday, September 1, 2013

Prep football: Manatee Hurricanes visit Pentagon Memorial

Hours before kicking off the regular season tonight against Gilman, Md., members of Manatee's football team visited the Pentagon Memorial, a tribute to the 184 lives lost Sept. 11, 2001 when hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building.
The Pentagon is located a quick walk from team's hotel in Arlington, Va.
Colonel Ed Fleming, the executive director of civil works and emergency operations at the US Army corps of engineers, accompanied the team to the memorial and also addressed the team at its hotel Sunday morning.
Col. Fleming went to West Point with Manatee alum Frank Brunner, who accompanied the Hurricanes on the trip.
Col. Fleming explained the positioning of the memorial benches dedicated to each of the day's victims: For the 125 who passed away in the Pentagon, their names and the building are in the same view; for the 55 on board Flight 77, their names  are in the same view as the plane's approach.
The wall surrounding memorial is symbolic in height, as well, starting at three inches for 3-year-old Dana Falkenberg, the youngest of the 184 victims, to 71 inches for 71-year-old John D. Yamnicky, the oldest of the victims.
Each memorial unit includes a bench and a lit pool of flowing water.
Flight 77 was one of four planes hijacked Sept. 11. Two flew into the twin towers of New York City's World Trade Center, while another crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pa. after passengers got wind of the attacks and thwarted the terrorists.
Col. Fleming told the players those planes were chosen for a purpose: they were making cross-country flights, which meant they were loaded with tons of fuel and were big enough to cause a lot of damage.
He also explained the reason the players and coaches had to go through a rigorous security check while boarding their plane in Tampa was because of the events of Sept. 11.
"You never had to take off your shoes or your belt or your belt buckles before Sept. 11, 2001," Col. Fleming said. "It was like getting on a bus.
Our lives were impacted forever on Sept. 11, 2001."
The Hurricanes stayed at the memorial for about 15 minutes before walking back to the team hotel, where they were scheduled to have a quick walk-through.
Manatee and Gilman kick off 7 p.m. tonight at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium, located on the campus of the University of Maryland.

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