Every member of the Army Black Knights football team ran onto the field carrying an American flag on Saturday, marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 jihadi terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans.
Army Football shared video of the tribute on Twitter, writing, “Here come the Black Knights!!”
The moment was met with 25,989 roaring fans, including the rowdy cadet corps, the New York Times reported. The team was led onto the field by Steve Trizano, a lieutenant from the Yonkers Fire Department who assisted with rescue efforts on 9/11, and former Marine Rocky Sickmann, who was among the hostages held in Iran for more than a year in 1979.
“It was a very, very powerful moment,” said Christian Anderson. The quarterback was chosen by his teammates to carry the black flag, which represents “a don’t flinch mentality. It’s very important to our program.”
Army Coach Jeff Monken sought to mark the solemn occasion with reverence without allowing his team to become overwhelmed by it.
“There is a consciousness here that may be different than at other college campuses,” Monken said. “It’s important that we’re prepared to be our best and be America’s team, which we are. We don’t want to allow the ceremonies, the remembrances to be a distraction — not that they’re not important. But we have an opportunity to represent people by playing well.”
Former Army soldier Michael Grimm expressed concerns relating to the future for cadets due to distrust in military leadership, but said attending a football game at West Point felt like going to church, especially on the anniversary of 9/11.
“The impact of 9/11 diminishes with time,” he said. “It’s a lot further away from that visceral feeling that everyone felt 20 years ago. Today is a reminder. To be here, I don’t think there’s a better place to be with Americans who are intent on paying their respects.”
On Saturday, Twitter exploded with admiration for the Black Knights’ tribute to September 11th.
“Every single one of these young men joined the Army football team knowing that they would enter the military upon graduation during a time of war,” one Twitter user wrote. “We have freedom because a small percentage of our population is willing to fight for it.”
“God bless em!!” another user wrote.
New York Times bestselling author Brigitte Gabriel tweeted, “This is great to see!”
Twitter user and best-selling author Nick Adams posted, “America is the greatest country in the history of the world! #NeverForget.”
Sports media company OutKick also commented on Army’s tribute, tweeting, “Every player on Army’s roster bolted onto the field — proudly hoisting the utmost symbol of freedom.”